What could be better than tasting your way through Britain's best dishes? Mary Cadogan rises to the challenge.
I've just got back from London after doing a stint as a guest critic for Britain's Best Dish for ITV. If you are not a daytime telly-watcher you've probably never heard of it, but it's a nationwide competition to find the best British dish . Not a dish that is necessarily British, such as Toad-in-the-hole or Shepherd's pie, but a dish that is made in Britain by cooks in their home. It could be a curry, a chilli or a pie, a new invention or a recipe passed down through generations and honed to perfection along the way.
When I was asked to take part, I jumped at the chance to taste and judge the best of home cooking. Not restaurant food or dishes trying to emulate restaurant cooking, but good honest dishes made for sharing with friends and family in the home. The regional heats are judged and mentored by Ed Baines, Jilly Goolden and John Burton Race and they choose a starter, main and dessert to represent each of seven regions.
This is where I came in, along with my fellow critics Charles Campion and William Sitwell, to help choose the three dishes that would go through to the final and the prize of £10,000. I was really hoping to taste some great dishes and I wasn't disappointed. If the dishes we ate are representative of the cooking that is going on in homes all over the country, the future is safe. We worked our way through starters that were pretty as a picture and bursting with flavour, mains that included pies and puddings made with the lightest, fluffiest pastries, perfect roasts and delicately spiced curries. And there were some seriously good puddings that had us greedily scraping our plates and hoping for more.
What's your favourite home-cooked dish? Which well loved recipe would you enter if you were to take part in a cookery competition?