Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Mr Vikki's Chutneys and Pickles - Penrith, Cumbria

I've long been on the search for chilli jam that doesn't place heat before flavour, only burn the back of your throat and leave a chemical aftertaste, or be so vinegary as to make me pull a face akin to the one I pulled when I was seven and my 'best mate' dared me to eat an entire packet of super sourz gobstoppers. At once.

Stopping off at an unknown village, whilst conducting a whistle stop tour of the lakes with the Legal Eagles, we chanced upon a stall selling Mr Vikki's. After not falling for tasting the King Naga sauce, made with the hottest chilli - the Naga (I learnt my lesson with the gobstoppers); we settled for a jar of the chilli jam and thought nothing much of it.

That was until we came home. Searching around for something to pep up eggs on toast, we can came across this little jar in the cupboard and thought, 'well it's that or dry bread.'

What a revelation! Not only did Mr Vikki's chilli jam make that the best damn eggs on toast I've ever had; it opened my eyes that somewhere in the distant Northern lands known as Cumbria, there was a company making what can only be described as God's preserves. No argument.

Chilli Jam - three chilli rating; King Naga is a massive eight!

The chilli jam is a richly spiced and multi-layered with a full, sweet and very distinctive taste. Large slices of garlic add their warmth to a thick base of peppers and tomatoes - none of this watery supermarket slush here. Mr Vikki's uses a combination of Naga and Habanero chillies; both hot, hot, hot - but this means there's also oodles of flavour. There's a slight citrus upnote from the habanero and then deeper sweetness and almost savoury notes of the naga, then a bit of a bam on the old tongue from the chilli. But that's not it; behind all that, washing over you in waves is all the spices used - I'm not going to guess, but there's some fennel in there, some mustard seed and some nigella too if I'm not mistaken.

This chilli jam has the ability to pep up everything and compliment so many flavours, instead of drowning them out in the usual hot sauces fashion; aforementioned eggs on toast, with cheese, dip apples in it, add it to pizza, makes wonderful sandwiches or just have it on toast (there's also recipes on the Mr Vikki's website). We have been advised to pop some on vanilla ice cream - sadly a jar hasn't lasted long enough for us to try that experiment yet!

Tomato and Nigella - only one chilli, still got a kick to it!

After the revelation that the Chilli Jam was so brilliant, we have been eating our way through the other products on offer from Mr Vikki's; Green Chilli Jam - very fresh version of the original, Aubergine Brinjal - very spicy, soft and smokey; Gooseberry Chutney - sweet and sour with a hint of spice and the wonderful Tomato and Nigella - much milder, but with a lovely fragrant taste capitalising on the wonderful marriage of tomato and nigella seeds; it leads a happy dance across the tongue and makes for happy meal times.

Mr Vikki's is a rare find; a collection of well thought out, original creations, lovingly created and with not one bad product (that we've found so far) in the range. We've started on a wonderfully fragrant and tasty journey sampling all that Mr Vikki's has to offer and are very excited about some of the jams and marmalades that will be available soon - with a hint of naga to really wake you up in the morning! However it doesn't matter what different products Mr Vikki's produces, there will always be a jar of the original Chilli Jam in our cupboards (it won't last for long though!).

Mr Vikki's produces chutneys, jams, pickles and curry pastes - the only places I know that carry stock near me are Harvey Nic's food hall in Manchester or Tebay Services/Westmorland Farm Shop and random farmers' markets throughout the Lakes; though you can order online and I'm sure if you follow @MrVikkis you can ask the man himself where you can sample his delights. Spice up your life!

Mr Vikki's, Welcome Inn, Eamont Bridge, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 2BD - 01768 899023 - Twitter - Facebook

Thanks to Mr Vikki's for the images, blatantly taken off the website/Facebook!