Showing posts with label Hallowe'en. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hallowe'en. Show all posts

3 Nov 2012

We've done it again! Fortnum's pumpkin success!

(And by "we, I don't mean me at all but the junior members of my sister's family!)

This Hallowe'en I couldn't make it to the annual Fortnum & Mason pumpkin carving competition as I was working a long day but my sister's Midlands-based family made the effort and trekked down to London for it; I joined them for the last couple of hours in the evening.  A couple of years back, my niece Kate won the inaugural competition, coming home with a bespoke besom broom and the promise of a Fortnum's delivery truck dropping off a £1000 hamper at her door.

Last year, my great niece Lottie (then 7½) scooped the top award for her entry into the children's section - her winning pumpkin was featured in Fortnum's publicity for this year and she took home a sizeable selection of Fortnum's sweets in one of their famous hampers.

Lottie's prize winning pumpkin, 2011
Image from Fortnum & Mason website
So, no pressure for this year then...   To be honest, the bar is now set so high, with very seriously competitive entries from professional pumpkin carvers, that it would be (almost) impossible for the hobbyist to win in the adult section.

The 2012 adult winner: 3 gruesome faces carved around the pumpkin.
Makes me think of the first Harry Potter film!
Thank goodness, then, for the children's section where, yet again, the winning pumpkin was chosen from those entered by members of my family - this time by Lottie's younger sister, Sophie (6½). Her sister and cousin were also commended for their efforts.  In case you can't immediately see it, this is a devil-faced pumpkin with flames, plaited raffia beard and (slightly slipping) horns - and, in my humble and totally biased opinion, much nicer than the adult winner, retaining a certain charm and friendliness.

Winning Children's pumpkin, 2012.

** Well done, Sophie! **

And thanks for saving me the truffles from your huge hamper of Fortnum's delicious sweets!  ♥♥♥

I do keep banging on about this Hallowe'en event but it's a lovely thing to go to if you're a) in London and b) not busy trailing after mini sweet bearing ghouls in your neighbourhood. Like most established department stores, Fortnums know how to keep the crowd entertained - we were treated to superior snacks and drinks in sugar-rimmed martini glasses throughout the hour long judging.  I loved the Jeeves-style waiters with their silver salvers of sliced pumpkin and sausagemeat in pastry, bowls of spiced pumpkin risotto and plates of pumpkin pie with vanilla cream and a disc of sugar-dredged, deep fried pumpkin. The last was a diet-breaker; even so, I'd dearly love the recipe! (I've looked online and nothing seems to resemble it; I think there were ground almonds in the pie filling.)  

I was very thirsty after my day at work so avoided more than a sip of the blood-coloured vodka and blackcurrant purée in favour of the non-alcoholic thirst quenching blackcurrant purée and soda.  Hmmm, it was all so lovely that I'm now wondering about slipping along to the macaron making demonstration this afternoon! 

3 Nov 2010

An unexpected victory…

:: Trick or Treaters from The Nightmare before Christmas (6 inch pumpkin) ::
If only I hadn't succumbed to the 'flu, last weekend would have been just marvellous! Remember the pumpkin carving at Fortnums that I wrote about? My sister, nieces, their kids, my son, me - all got together for the day and entered our respective pumpkins. My son and I swiftly carved a couple of pumpkins in the morning (mine, above) before heading off for lunch whilst the rest of the family put a bit more preparation into it, going out to select their pumpkins from a nearby farm:

… and then devoting an evening to the carving. It paid off: I'm thrilled (and very proud) to announce that my niece Kate carried off the first Golden Pumpkin Award in the shape of a bespoke Fortnum's broomstick! Here she is, collecting her prize from Fortnum's jovial judge Simon who dreamt up and organised the whole shebang.

She also won the luxury Windsor Hamper; what luck! we had a sort of pre-nup agreement that whoever won would divvy up the spoils between the family. That was a pretty solid deal for the rest of us as Kate is generally known as a luck magnet. I've got my eye on that hamper basket ;) (fat chance mate!) …although I'd happily settle for the Magnifici florentines and the caviar instead!

The standard of entries was quite overwhelming; the competition was opened up to double the numbers - I think there were over 150 entries, some of whom obviously took the whole thing very seriously:

This King of the Wild Things was carved into an Atlantic Giant, with extra stalks added. Impressive! But it didn't win because it failed in one of the categories - luminosity;  the carver hadn't hollowed it out.  So there you are, hot tip to remember for next year. 

Other pumpkins were very well carved (top right: ma boy's carving of Oogly Boogly, top left: Cheshire Cat by my niece, Jen):

(Sorry, had to get those two in!)  Here's a couple more that totally appealed to me, they were so quirky - and of course included plenty of veg and flowers!

 Every table in the Ground Floor Gallery restaurant was covered in lit pumpkins as the evening got darker (wolfman, catwoman, haunted houses) and contestants with their families feasted on complimentary snacks and drinks: mulled wine or soft fruit coolers, pumpkin risotto (they've promised me the recipe, it was mega-tasty), sausage pumpkin puff pastry slices, chocolate chilli cream mousse - really, there was no need to make supper when I got home!  But I expect what you all really want to know is…  what did the winning pumpkin look like?

Trick or Treat, dearie?
(And, clever girl, she made the giant sweets on top and filled the inside with sweets and fairy lights!)  What?  Me, biased?  Surely not!!  Ha, ha.  Well done Kate!!

P.S. I hope that next year I'll see a few London based veg gardeners there with home-grown carved pumpkins?  And yes, I'm getting over the 'flu although I suspect it's all downhill towards a filthy cold.  So annoying! So much to do in the garden!

15 Oct 2010

Last Day for my Giveaway!

There are lots of pumpkins appearing in the shops now and, (unlike me) if you were organised enough to grow some this year, I expect you've already harvested a few.  Are you saving any for decorating? You might want to know exactly how to deal effectively with all those innards (how to get the shell really clean so your decorated pumpkin won't start to rot and stink so soon), which tools are the best to use (and where to get them from) and how to be inspired beyond the spooky Hallowe'en faces.  For the more environmentally minded, there's even a project on making bird feeders from squashes - very important to keep the birds fed as the days get colder and there's less food around for them.

In which case …

Decorating Pumpkins and Gourds: 20 Fun and Stylish Projects for Decorating Pumpkins, Gourds, and Squashescould be the very book you need (click on the book title for a 'look inside' linkthrough) and - more excitingly! one lucky reader will win a copy by midnight tonight … ~ahem~ by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.  Just leave a comment at the bottom of the original post (click here) (or at the bottom of this one - gosh I'm indecisive today) to have your name added to the Wellie Boot of Luck.  You can enter the draw even if you don't live in the UK! (A big thank you to everyone who has entered already.)

Regardless of your carving skills, what do you do with the pumpkin flesh?  I'd love to know!  I've heard a lot about American Pumpkin Pie so will try and track down a  recipe for that (anyone got a recommendation for me?) but check back tomorrow and I'll have a pumpkin muffin recipe for you.

And don't forget to save the seeds!  Keep a few back for re-sowing next year (wash, dry and store in dry place) and eat the rest!  Try this yummy way of cooking them: Chilli Lime Roasted Pumpkin Seeds from Roamyourwayhome, one of the members on Jamie Oliver's food website. I think these would make great grown up Hallowe'en snacks!
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