For the last five years or so, my sister and I have gone to The Good Food and Wine Show. The first year was fantastic! Granted, my sister and I kind of went crazy and shopped up a storm… to the point where I had to call my housemate from the courtyard when I got home so he could help me get all of it upstairs into the apartment.
Last year’s show was a little quiet, a little smaller and a lot more expensive. Also, more wine, or should I say beer, than food… I didn’t think much of it, I still walked away with my showbags, great cheese and other little bits and pieces. Perhaps that should have been enough of a warning that my beloved show was declining…
This year’s show was about half the size of past shows. Alcohol dominated, and the food stallholders who were there all carried products I could find in my local supermarket. Even the artisan dressings, sauces, spreads and vinegars had all but disappeared when just two years ago, every second stallholder had some new tasty dressing for your salad.
And worst of all? THERE WERE NO SHOWBAGS!!!
I was not impressed.
Sure, some of the usual stallholders were there and I managed to stock up on these beautiful little sweet pastry tartlet shells that are great for those days where you just want to make a beautiful filling, stuff them and eat them without having to bake.
The only thing that actually stopped the show from being a complete disaster was Cheese Alley. Approximately twenty stalls of nothing but cheese. That cheered me up a little.
On a sidenote… If you can find Satori’s Raspberry Bellavitano cheese from wherever you are, you will not be sorry! It’s a creamy pecorino-style cheese that is marinated in raspberry ale and tastes absolutely amazing that it was almost a shame to put it on crackers.
When I got home, I put together a lovely grazing lunch with some of the cheeses I bought, some ricotta and spinach filo pastries, dipping herb mix in pecan oil, fresh bread and some edamame, just because I had some and they’re moreish and yummy.
But those sweet tartlet cases I bought were taunting me… I wasn’t planning on making anything today, figuring I would be tired from the ‘awesome’ food show. Passing my pantry, I noticed I still had vanilla beans. Putting the cheeses away, I noticed I had heavy cream… Yep, I was going to make panna cotta and fill the tasty little tartlet casings… just a little something to cure the disappointments of the day…
Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta Tartlets
- 500 ml Heavy Cream
- 200 ml Milk
- 2 Vanilla Beans (seeds scraped and added to the cream mixture)
- ½ cup Sugar
- 2 Gelatin Leaves (gold strength, or ¾ teaspoon powdered gelatin)
- Icing Sugar (to sprinkle)
- Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water for 5 to 7 minutes, or prepare according to the directions on the packaging.
- Over medium-low heat, combine the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla bean pods and seeds in a saucepan. Heat until it just begins to simmer. Do not allow the cream mixture to come to a boil.
- Squeeze gelatin leaves to remove excess water and add to them to the cream mixture. Stir well to dissolve and combine.
- Allow the cream mixture to reach room temperature, approximately 45 minutes.
- Slowly pour cooled cream mixture into tartlet casings or one large pastry tart.
- Refrigerate until set, approximately 4 hours. A single, large tart may require overnight refrigeration to set.
- Sprinkle with icing sugar just before serving.
Note 1: If you would like to make vanilla bean panna cotta without the pastry, pour them into shot glasses for small delightful treats or ramekins for larger delightful treats. If you would like to be able to turn them out, pour them into lightly oiled, plastic pudding moulds. Once they have set, you can unmould them by briefly dipping the moulds in a bowl of hot water before turning upside down onto serving plates and shaking gently to release.
Note 2: I usually make a lighter yogurt-style panna cotta in shot glasses with a strawberry jelly, but there were no fresh or frozen berries to be found today. If icing sugar is too simple, you can decorate the tartlets with fresh whole berries, fresh fruit jellies or fruit syrup or chocolate ganache sauces.