Mike Fairbrass attends the 6th annual Scotch Egg Challenge and receives the Golden Globes.
I love a scotch egg, their’pub snack’ categorization doesn’t do them justice. Since a well overdue renaissance from the cold, leathery grey-egged service station variety they have now become sacred orbs. The perfect edible scale model of our Earth; the crispy breadcrumb crust, sausage meat mantle, egg white outer core and liquid inner core of yolk.
The event has been running for six years since OisÃƒÂn Rogers created it at the Ship in Wandsworth. It’s now at the The Canonbury which is heaving with bodies awaiting their free nibbles.
I shimmy my way through the crowds to the large back room where, at the top table, sit the panel of judges; The Guardian’s Bob Granleese, Ben Chapman of Smoking Goat and Kiln, food writer and chef Rosie Sykes and Restaurant Magazine’s Stefan Chomka. Our host and compere for the event is journalist and author of the bestselling’Where Chefs Eat’ Joe Warwick who gives commentary and description as each meaty sphere emerges.
Our host and compere for the event is creator, journalist and author of the bestselling’Where Chefs Eat’ Joe Warwick who has been running this for six years. He gives commentary and description as each meaty sphere emerges.
First out of the fryer comes Lulu Beasley’s bacon and black pudding egg from Tanner & Co. The judges sample before segments are handed around for us. I love the smokiness and you can taste the black pud too, a subtly twisted classic. Then eggs come at battery rates: Talli Joes quails egg in crab meat by Sameer Taneja comes with a zingy dipping sauce, Maciej Stachera from Absurd Birds wraps his egg in chicken (an echo of before it hatched?), Guinea Grill’s juicy cumberland and sourdough crumb by Krzystof Sczcepanski follows.
The Judges aren’t gushing so far but Joe thinks it’s only because they are trying to channel Simon Cowell or Craig Revel Hall because they each want to be the nasty one of the panel.
Then things get lateral with The Little Viet Kitchen’s Thy Pham-Kelly using prawns to wrap instead with some very welcome Vietnamese spices. It’s described as light and bouncy and is perhaps a little uptight but still a refreshing change.
More rich black pudding now, this time with mushroom and beef by Jason Wild from Rotunda, then an even richer BBQ ox cheek and smoked bone marrow by Robin Gill at The Dairy, I doubt anyone could eat a whole one of those and I’m glad the eggs are all cut into thin segments as there are fifteen in competition tonight.
Mac & Wild’s venison version by Andy Waugh has a slightly thin meat layer which is also a tad tough. Phil Mason of The Rat Inn has brought farm fresh eggs down south with a tasty but a little too smooth textured ham and pease pudding coating with stottie crumb.
Calum Franklin of Holborn Dining Room brings the first of two delicious Haggis eggs followed by more prawn and tamarind this time with hoisin by Santosh Shah of the Cinnamon Collection. A veggie and gluten free egg by Tang falls apart from a lack of porky substrate like it’s embarrassed – scotch eggs are just not a vegetarian concept.
It is now time for Joe to announce the winners and Gina Hopkins of the Drapers Arms, Islington is crowned the winner for her standout Haggis and panko breadcrumbs egg. Just the right mix of richness, flavoursome crispy crumb and a perfect oozy egg. That cute little outdoor reared Haggis didn’t die in vain. It’s also a third Scotch Egg Challenge win for the pub which must mean their cabinet is heaving judging by the magnificent size of her trophy.
Neil Rankin of Temper comes second (previously of Bad Egg in Moorgate – obviously no bad omen), his juicy creation boasts a very runny egg yolk inside an extra inner layer of rare beef inside the pork inside the crispy crumb.
Chris Brumby of My Pie grabs third with his ambitious and inventive English breakfast egg, cramming sausage, black pudding, bacon, mushroom and polar caps of spinach and beans inside a cornflake crumb. Tasty and technically brilliant and at least we’ve now had some veg with that gram of oddly included spinach.
Joe has given out all the silverware and we end the evening happily stuffed with the best portable nutritional device there is. Spherical foods are universally great: dumplings, stuffing balls, meatballs fishballs or arancini, but when Fortnum & Mason of Piccadilly added the scotch egg in 1738 the epicurean solar system gained the star all others now orbit.