Moyallon Guanciale, a bacon style product revered by Italians but made with great dedication by Hannan Meats in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, was crowned Supreme Champion at The Great Taste Awards 2012, the annual food awards scheme which seeks out the very best tasting food and drink.
The announcement was made at a dinner, held at The Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington and chaired by CellarVie Wines’ very own, Nigel Barden, of BBC Radio 2 fame. Wines from CellarVie Wines were served at the awards ceremony; Crozes-Hermitage Comte de Raybois 2008 A. Ogier et Fils, Gavi di Gavi 'La Toledana' 2011, Domini Villa Lanata and Prosecco Extra Dry NV, Fantinel.
Judged by some of the UK's most respected food experts in the UK, Hannan's Guanciale was deemed the finest of 8,800 products to reach the final, and in doing so earned the much coveted number one position.
Peter Hannan, MD of Hannan Meats, was asked by owners and chefs of Italian restaurants to produce Guanciale, which is an authentic ingredient in many pasta dishes. It is becoming increasingly rare in Italy and it is almost certain that Hannan Meats is the only maker of Guanciale in the UK.
Un-smoked pigs jowl (or cheek) is dry-cured with herbs such as fennel and thyme, sugar, peppers, spices, garlic and red wine to produce a flavour that is stronger than pancetta but with a more delicate, subtle texture which is considered essential in many recipes from Umbria and Lazio in central Italy.
"This is simply an exquisite example of a product that has its roots in Italy but has been made brilliantly in Great Britain. Our judges were unanimous in their appreciation of the Guanciale which uses traditional skills to turn what is essentially a humble pigs cheek into a sublime dry-cured bacon - almost a case of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear," said Bob Farrand, Guild of Fine Food chairman.
Run by the Guild of Fine Food, the Great Taste accreditation scheme has been responsible for launching a plethora of varied artisan producers into the big time of the fine food world.
To win Supreme Champion is an enormous achievement for any producer; it has placed previously un-known producers amongst the finest food on the shelves of top London food stores and into the hands of Michelin starred chefs.
Described as the epicurean equivalent of the Booker Prize, Great Taste 2012 was judged during 45 days of blind tasting by an esteemed panel that included Masterchef winner and restaurateur Mat Follas, restaurant critic and Masterchef judge Charles Campion, food writers Lucas Hollweg and Xanthe Clay and more than 300 food buyers from leading food halls, such as Harrods, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, as well as delicatessens and farm shops across the country.
From beers to brownies, 8,807 different products were entered into Great Taste 2012, with 2,793 awarded one-, two- and three-star golds and 123 entries awarded a coveted three-star gold. While there were a host of stars dished out, merely being recognised by the Great Taste 2012 Awards is considered a fine achievement.