Victory for Vistong

Victory for Vistong

The stories behind Great Taste Star winners: discovering Church Paddock Smokery.

John Dean expresses quiet astonishment at the response to Vistong being given 3-Stars in this year’s Great Taste Awards. He hadn’t appreciated this achievement was such a rarity; only 1.8% of entries received 3-Stars this year! John seems almost embarrassed at bagging one of the top spots for Vistong - trout pieces, smoked and marinated to John’s own recipe and then dried. It is a more succulent alternative to biltong - spicy, slightly honeyed and moreish with a mild chilli kick that doesn’t overpower the fresh trout flavour.

The Hampshire Fare team were first wowed by Vistong earlier in the year at one of the food group’s networking events. It was introduced by John, whose son runs the family-owned fishery, with an understated ‘what do you think of this?’ We knew he was on to something back then, finding it irresistibly tasty and we are pleased that our views are in step with the judges of the Great Taste Awards 2023.

Hampshire Fare caught up with John at the Church Paddock Fishery, a hidden oasis on the outskirts of Winchester where John smokes trout fillets and makes trout pate as well as Vistong. He is pondering what to do next following this unexpected success. Just how much appetite is there for Vistong? At present the Fishery (and its online shop) is the only place that sells Trout Vistong direct to the public. It is a very tranquil spot where two or three fisherman cast their lines onto the lake’s surface while weeping willows and swans quietly dip into the waters.

The Smokery started as a ‘by-product’ at the fishery as there were so many trout in the freezer John decided to start smoking them. The Vistong started as a ‘by-product’ of the smokery as there were always trimmings left over from smoking the fillets. As a keen cook, John tried various dishes using the trout before "playing around" (in his words) with different marinating recipes, although he admits, “We never expected people to like it!”

However, the Great Taste Awards’ judges didn’t just like it, they loved it! So what next for Vistong?

Discover more Hampshire Fare stars in this year's Great Taste Awards HERE.