Sunday, 6 September 2009

Lord, Lady, Vicar but no sticky fingers

I had a charming evening this week at a well-attended and lively launch of Cartmel Sticky Toffee Puddings re-branding.
Cartmel itself is the most attractive of villages on the southern fringes of The Lake District. It has a disproportionate number of successful attractions for such a small settlement.
Sticky Toffee Pudding promises to be the most famous of all.
Although there have been sticky toffee puddings before, notably at Ullswater’s Sharrow Bay and Windermere’s Miller Howe hotels, it is the Cartmel variety which has conquered the world.
Howard and Jean Johns who had a restaurant in nearby Grange moved to Cartmel Village Shop 20 years ago and started making puddings to take away, in a kitchen on the premises.
In winter when the number of visitors declined, they started exporting them by piggy-backing on the distribution network of Woodalls of Waberthwaite, of Cumberland sausage fame.
Soon the likes of Booths, Selfridges, Waitrose, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason stocked the puddings, made from ingredients such as cane sugar, sticky dates, free-range eggs, fresh local cream and butter.
Now 35 people are employed in a converted warehouse down the coast at Flookburgh, making more than one million puddings a year.
But in true Cartmel fashion the pudding people know they need to keep moving forward and it was re-branded with new packaging and a new web-site this week. Rest assured the recipe remains unchanged.
The re-launch included a re-attachment of apron strings to the village shop, with links to other businesses.
I was invited as I was in the village doing a feature for Lancashire Life. It is going in the November issue, which, confusingly comes out in the middle of October.
Among the other guests were Lord and Lady Cavendish from up the road at Holker Hall, and Cartmel Priory Church team vicar Father Robert Bailey.
After canap├ęs there was an interesting speech from Sticky Toffee Pudding managing director Charlotte White who explained that although the recession had helped the firm, with eating in being the new eating out, nevertheless the brand had decided to reconnect with the place of its origin.
Then tiny puddings were served on the sort of spoons you get to eat Chinese soups, so no-one had to suffer sticky fingers.
Mike Glover
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