Ahoy there, maties! It’s valentine’s day and I’ve got some explaining to do after that piratical greeting but first, if you’ll let me, I’d like to be serious for a moment.
You see, this year, this very day, a company that I love is going out of business. One that’s close to my heart. One that’s been with me since the beginning.
As I mentioned in my introduction to them, the Chilli Alchemist were a real favourite of mine. Folks who made some of the most delicious and delightfully wacky products out there. Who were a big inspiration for me becoming a reviewer. And who were kind enough to help me out with popping candy samples when my own finances were at their lowest.
They were small, yet successful and have had a huge impact on both my cooking and my life as a whole but, at the end of today, they’re going away due to the owners’ declining health.
So I’d like to recommend that you slide on over to the link in my sidebar to check them out and try something from their range. Perhaps their delightful matcha sauce or the Book of Melliculus – A gift set of all four of their amazing popping candy flavours.
And, if you’re getting here after the fourteenth of february 2019, why not check out one of their parting recommendations instead? That’s what I’m going to be doing for the rest of today.
Of the four companies mentioned in the Alchemist’s facebook post, I’m already well acquainted with three. In fact, Grim Reaper Foods already feature alongside them in my links.
Then there’s Hot-Headz, the biggest importer of foreign hot sauce into the UK. I was a bit upset by their decision to discontinue their own Apple Chipotle Bourbon BBQ before I could review it but, aside from that, they’ve been a great source of great sauce over the years that I’ve run this site and I’m sure that they’ll continue to be such for many to come.
Second on their list (and third on mine, because I arbitrarily reordered them for ease of discussion), we have Mr Vikkis. An indian-inspired brand from down in cumbria who I only reviewed once but boy was his banana chutney good! Perhaps I should feature him a little more.
But finally, let’s talk about the one that I don’t know: Gingerbeard’s Preserves.
A small, bristolian company, themed entirely around the owner’s ginger dreads and impressive facial hair. But, just in case you misread the name, he’s got that covered, too, in the gingerbread man that displays them for his logo.
He makes a few chilli sauces but, as the other half of the name might imply, his speciality is preserves. A whole range of highly creative jams, chutneys, pickles and more, all tested in cleaned and reused jars before going to market, to minimise his environmental footprint.
Not every item from this company contains chilli but the majority seem to and I picked up a few of the ones that do to give his work a go. After all, they met the approval of the Chilli Alchemist and look to be every bit as wild and exciting as what those guys were making!
Here, I have three of the things that most appealed to me – A salsa, a satay and a chilli piccalilli – and, while I’m not going to tell you what makes them special just yet, you might be able tocatch a glimpse of it from my parcel.
Another thing that you might notice, though, is that every single one of these involves a second company. Because Gingerbeard himself is all about the community and collaboration.
For the most part, this is with local breweries, making his products a bit boozy. But you’ll also see some rather less orthodox partnerships like the one with Nutcessity done to provide the nut butter in his satay.
There’s a clear air of playfulness to these products, both in their flavour combinations and in their artwork, which gives me and all of you a lot to look forward to. So, stay tuned. I’ll be cracking the first one in a couple of weeks.
In the mean time, here’s the flag that I’ll be flying in the future, if they live up to my expectations.
Because, as anyone can tell, Gingerbeard IS a pirate name.