Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's Thick and Yellow

I have spent the last 10 years on a gastronomic quest. No, this is not my tireless campaign to visit the best restaurants in London, although that's ongoing. My quest has been to find the perfect blend of the thick yellow stuff. Piccalilli. 

You may think piccalilli is downmarket. I began to suspect the same after Nana Royle asked for a cheese and piccalilli sandwich in the Royle Family. But I can't help it. I'm like Nigella with her pickles obsession. I adore piccalilli, and particularly in a cheese sandwich. 

The problem is, Epicure, my favourite purveyors of the pickle,  stopped making piccalilli about 10 years ago or longer, I've been trying to find one that ticks all the boxes and I've failed miserably. 

It's not through want of trying. I've tried all the mainstream ones from supermarkets: own brands, including M&S (one of the worst), Garners, Haywards, Heinz (yuk!), Bartons. I've also experimented with specialist pickles bought at farmer's markets and delis. Until now, my piccalilli of choice was from Fortnum & Mason, but it was nowhere near the towering achievement that was Epicure's historic brand.

Now though, I have a new number one. In Tavistock recently I went into Creber's, one of those delightful old-fashioned deli / grocer's that sells everything by Epicure (except, ironically, the piccalilli).  Anyway, I scoured the pickle shelves and decided to try a jar of piccalilli which was marked "gold medal winner." It is a piccalilli to die for: not too dayglo a yellow, not too acid or bitter, and not too sweet. It has the perfect balance of silverskin onions and cauliflower. It hasn't got preservatives or anything nasty (once open, you have to keep it in the fridge). And the best news is, you can buy it online direct from the makers in Wiltshire. The company is called Tracklements and Delia mentions their chilli jam in her new book. They also have many other products including chutneys, pickles, ketchups, jellies and, oh bliss, hampers!

Update:  news just in - November 2020:

Epicure Piccalilli is back.  I've been contacted by the new owners, who have quite an extensive range at their website. I'll be giving my verdict on my current blog, Is This Mutton, on Nov 13 2020.


Anonymous said...

I remember the Epicure brand very well, and so does my wife. We have a jar of Tracklements piccalilli on the go at the moment, and it's not in the same universe as Epicure. Far too vinegary, not the sweet rounded flavour that we recall. Keep looking!

danouche said...

You can buy some from Rick Stein that is amazing. Either in Padstow or online. Trust me, it's worth a try.

jim said...

I remember the Epicure piccalilli. I thought I found a good replacement with Sainsburys own spicey picalilli, but what happened they also stopped making that. I will try anything now but its not the same. Jim

KateRe said...

Fortnum and Mason's far too vinegary for me too.
Definitely going back to making my own again - dont know why more people don't,
its so easy and keeps for ages.

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