If Hawkshead Relish don’t make a chutney then it probably isn’t worth eating. Their range of over 120 relishes, pickles and preserves are all handmade in small batches using traditional open pans and top-notch ingredients, and you can tell, because from their Raspberry and Vanilla Jam, to their Indian Garlic Pickle, each jar is as bright and flavourful as the next.
Maria and her husband Mark, the founders and owners of the company, are food-lovers to their core. They travel all over the world tasting everything they can to ensure their flavour combinations are up to scratch, spend as much time as possible in their development kitchen, and are often judges in the world-renowned Great Taste Awards. They also happen to be very good friends of ours, famous for the hospitality they offer in their beautiful Lake District home, and even more famous for making our best-selling Salted Caramel Sauce.
We shared a cup of Yorkshire Tea with Maria, and talked fresh eggs and good cheese.
WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST THIS MORNING?
Porridge with Hawkshead Relish Cumbrian honey and toasted flaked almonds, with a large mug of strong Yorkshire Tea.
WHO TAUGHT YOU TO LOVE FOOD?
Initially my Mum, she was a great cook and baker and I loved coming home from school to see what she was making. Then my husband Mark is a chef, so he really taught me about ingredients and mixing flavours.
WHAT’RE YOUR THREE FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS?
Horrible question! But to be honest the three things I know I couldn’t live without would be Wayanad black pepper, fresh eggs from our hens at home and of course Halen Mon – there is no finer condiment. The salt is so jewel-like and the crystals taste so pure.
WHAT’S YOUR GUILTY FOOD PLEASURE?
Good cheese – there are not many varieties I don’t like!
WHAT DOES HALEN MON GO BEST WITH?
Well, apart from everything?! My absolute favourite is bruschetta made with sourdough bread, rubbed with a fresh garlic clove, topped with roughly chopped fresh tomatoes, a good drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled with Halen Mon.
WHERE DO YOU EAT OUT?
Favourite finds are small owner-run bistros where they care passionately about the ingredients, and the flavours are delivered with pride. Closest to home in Ambleside is the Old Stamp House and Doi Intanon, where they make the most amazing authentic Thai food. In Grasmere The Jumble Room is a favourite, and in Windermere it has got to be Francine’s.
WHAT DO YOU EAT AFTER A LONG DAY AT WORK?
Whatever Mark (my business partner and husband) has made for me! I am lucky as he often cooks during the week, and we both love the same flavours. His curries are epic – he has done so many trips to India that he really knows his spices. If I’m cooking, I’ll make a poached egg, chopped up on sourdough, with a big mug of Yorkshire Tea.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE COOKBOOK?
We were given a copy of Delia’s Complete Cookery Course thirty plus years ago and its still the go-to reference for basics. We have hundreds of cookery books so it really depends on mood, but I do love anything by Ottolenghi!