Sally Winslet scoops pickled onion prizeBy Paul Cassell
February 16, 2012
The competition was as sharp as the vinegar as entrants gave it their best shallot to make the finest pickled onions in town.
The annual contest at The Retreat pub in St John’s Road attracted a variety of sweet and sour entries.
Movie superstar Kate Winslet’s mum Sally once again took the first prize, having last won in the year her famous daughter scooped an Oscar for best actress in 2009.
She said: “It’s getting quite embarrassing. Maybe next year I’ll be a judge!
“I always make pickled onions and save a few for the competition. It’s great fun and something nice to do in the New Year.
“I do not use any measures, just a bit of this and a bit of that and hope they will be all right. I didn’t do anything new this year. There is no secret in how I make them, just a bit of guesswork to make them a bit sweet and spicy -– there’s no particular recipe and they seem to work.”
Asked if Kate liked her mum’s onions, she said: “Yes, I think she does, the whole family like them and say they are the best and much better than shop ones.”
The competition was judged by Daniel Tucci, director and head chef of Tucci’s Kitchen in Tilehurst, Sarah Lucas, lead singer of Reading band Dolly and the Clothes Pegs, and Reading Post deputy editor and foodmonthly editor Hilary Scott.
The judges were unanimous in deciding the winners with Martin Hoare, under the pseudonym Doris Panda, coming in second place with Jill Scott-George in third.
Mr Tucci said: “I was looking for flavour and taste initially and then the way the vinegar had aged the onion. They were all of a high quality and a lot of work had gone into how they were produced, and although there were clear winners all of them were very tasty.”
The competition was brought to The Retreat by landlady Jane Marsden, who runs the pub with partner Bernie Whiten, having originated at The Dove pub in Orts Road which has since been demolished.
She said: “People take the pickling of onions very seriously and the judges are always very conscientious and have worked hard in coming to a conclusion.
“It’s the last year of our lease and it depends on if we can agree terms, but if we do not then we hope someone will take on the pub and the competition will prosper.”