I am thrilled to announce that our Gloria Swanson Bar-Le-Duc won SECOND PRIZE in its class at the Women’s Institute Real Jam Festival this weekend.  And as my mum put it, “those WI Judges are VERY picky!”  Indeed they are, and as you know, we were very picky too – picking all the pips out of half a pound of redcurrants with goose quills!

It was worth every pip though as the jam is amazing and scored 17/20.  The same score as the winner in our class actually, but we were penalized for not having submitted a big enough jar. Jane was full of jam related quips this weekend and when she saw that we had the same points as the winning jam said we’d been “pipped at the post”.

But those WI ladies are so lovely, I thought we would be DISQUALIFIED for not submitting a big enough jar but they let us off.  I sent a letter explaining that 5 hours of pip-picking by seven épépineuses on rotation only resulted in 12 tiny jars.  If you want to know more about Bar-Le-Duc, it’s all in this magnificent article and can I show off even more?  The winning jar of jam (same points as ours remember) was made by Pam Corbin who is the QUEEN OF JAM and wrote the River Cottage Cookbook that we used on the day as our reference bible!

Trix did very well with his “Mango Morning” jam which he submitted to the “Man Jam” section and we were so enthused, inspired and generally over-excited by the whole brilliant event that we are already planning on entering again next year.

There were brilliant cookery demonstrations by Peter Lien, Dhruve Baker, our new best friend Rachel Green and two fabulous WI ladies.  We learned a LOT of stuff, and not just about jam.  Some really interesting facts about British farming (I have already switched to Rapeseed oil for cooking) and some great techniques for pickling and making columns of meat by rolling them up in cling film!  Here’s Rachel and one of the winners of the Guild of Food Writers young cook’s competition Natalie Miron at work in the demonstration kitchen:

And here is one of the delicious dishes that was demonstrated for us, Peter Lien’s Venison Meatballs with Pickled Cherries, Wet Polenta with Kale and Red Onion Gravy – oh yummy, yummy!

I’m going to put some more pictures of the whole WONDERFUL weekend we spent at Denman College on the Flickr site when I have time but there is one of the superlative Ballotine of Spiced Confit Duck with Plum Sauce demonstrated by Dhruv Baker over at the Vincentennial Cookblog

Thank you the good ladies of the esteemed WI.  I am really thinking about joining…

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