The Ideal Home Show

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Earls Court is home to the Ideal Home Show again this year, possibly for the last time since there are major development plans which will mean that the exhibition centre is demolished.  So, I made a special effort to pop in there at the weekend and have a look around.

The entrance is really spectacular this year.  I don’t remember such an effort in the past, but perhaps I’ve just not noticed.  This year, there’s a ‘green carpet’ and a really pretty façade on Earls Court 1.  I was surprised to find the Chelsea Pensioners there, collecting for the soldier’s fund.  And even more surprised to find a FEMALE Chelsea Pensioner (apparently there are 6 of them, to the 240 or so men!)

Inside, there’s a pretty wide range of stands downstairs and some spectacular show houses (always a feature of the Ideal Home Show).  There’s more emphasis on the environment and Eco friendly homes and there’s a whole set of ‘Princes’ Trust’ stands, sponsored by Prince Charles.

Perhaps the most eye catching sight is the ‘Home of the Future’, complete with lake and smart car!  I didn’t get a chance to watch the show through, but it looked very impressive.

The House of the Future

The downside to the fantastic show houses is that, at least on a Saturday afternoon, you have to queue for around 30 minutes to get into each one.  And, I found that just too much after I’d already checked the various stands and sat in on the B&Q DIY theatre for a while.  My advice is to go during the week if you can!  Or, be prepared for a wait.

Upstairs is great if you are looking for small appliances for your home.  There are demonstrations of everything you might ever need from magic window cleaners to devices that can microslice an onion in seconds.  I was a little disappointed at the food stands which seemed predominantly focussed on fast food (and actually found the smell of the burger stand as you went up the escalator really offputting.

I was really thrilled to find the Cola-Red stand – I love the 1950s look and I’ve been considering getting a small table and chairs for my kitchen.  It was great to see them in ‘real life’ without having to travel to Amersham, where they have a showroom.  Their products are beautifully made in the US by traditional manufacturing methods so everything has a real weight to it.

Is it worth going this year?  Well, it may never be the same again – an exhibition somewhere other than Earls Court just won’t work in the same way.  So, yes I think so.

You can book tickets online or by phone for £10-£12, and also organise some food at the same time.  It costs a little more on the door so it’s worth getting things set up before you go!

The Good Food Show

Gosh, I feel a bit like Royalty saying this was my first official engagement!  I went to the Good Food Show at the invitation of New World Appliances who were exhibiting there; it is somewhere that as a Londoner I might not otherwise put in my diary, though it takes me no longer to get to Birmingham than to Excel (which is the other side of London to me).  But there seem to be a lot of food shows now and you simply can’t go to them all, even if like me you love getting new ideas and seeing celebrity chefs in action.

New World Appliances at the Good Food Show

I had a quick look round the producer’s village before making my way over to the Belling/NewWorld/Stoves stand.  It was an unexpected delight to meet Ruth Clemens who writes  The Pink Whisk blog and was runner up in the 2010 Great British Bake-Off.

Ruth Clemens - The Pink Whisk

She was happily making Mince Pies which just HAPPENED to be ready as I went round to where she was cooking.  They were delicious, with a kind of crumble topping and Philadelphia Cream Cheese adding a moist creaminess.

Mince Pies at the Good Food Show

Then back to watch Brian Turner doing a cookery demonstration.  You probably know him as one of the chefs on Ready Steady Cook and the lovely people at Belling and New World Appliances had challenged him to do something similar for the Good Food Show.

Brian Turner at the New World Appliances Stand

So, he was presented with Venison Haggis, Duck Breast, Chocolate Wine, Jazz Apples and a few other goodies gathered from around the show.  And then given just 20 minutes to come up with something fantastic.

Brian Turner at the Good Food Show

Well, I didn’t envy him in that!  And, amazingly, he managed to produce not just one dish but several.  How about these yummy apple filled pancakes for example.

Apple Pancakes and Induction Hob

Or this duck with mushrooms in chocolate wine sauce.

Duck with Mushrooms and chocolate wine sauce

I had a bit of a nose around the stand and spotted the fantastic colour skinned New World Appliances integrated ovens.  It’s a little sad that my photo doesn’t really show the colours in their full glory, they are subtle, like jewels, and the lighting at the show makes it very hard for a novice photographer like me to take a great picture of them

New World Appliances Ovens

I took a look at the display of induction hobs – I have a secret yearning for one – they are an incredibly safe way to cook because they never feel hot to the touch and they are one of the most energy efficient ways to cook because the heat ONLY goes through the pan, not up and around the side!

Wormesley Dressings

I really loved the producer’s village.  I loitered for quite a while at the Wormseley stand.  They are much loved by bloggers, partly for their rather fabulous bottles, but MOSTLY because their products are really quite special and can lift an ordinary dish into the sublime.  And I trialled a lot of the products on the Orkney foods stand and came home with quite a few little pots of fish.  They have an unbelievable shelf life of around 3 months in the fridge and can be safely left outside of the fridge for up to 12 hours.  So I now have some rather unusual and interesting dishes for quick meals.  Don’t these olives just make you want to dive in…the show was fully of stands with delicious things to try.

Good Food Show Birmingham

Holding the Good Food Show at the NEC has the benefit of providing a LOT of space.  I didn’t get to see everything, but I understand from the exhibitors that it’s a bit more cost effective than some of the London shows.  That meant there were some small British exhibitors I haven’t seen before.  I had a lovely day out, went home with some goodies and really enjoyed watching Brian Turner demonstrating how to make something wonderful from some VERY diverse ingredients!