News from the Cellar Door: A Week of Interviews!
By Nick Brake, owner of Rutland Charcuterie Company
We had a great round of interviews at the end of October. Soho Radio had invited us down to London to appear on William Sitwell’s Biting Talk programme. His “Angels or Devils” slot gives people the opportunity to sell an idea or new company during a one minute pitch to then be given the thumbs up or down by his panel of guests. We were in great company as food critics Tom Parker Bowles and Joe Warwick were on the panel. I think my pitch and product samples seemed to hit the spot!
Ben Jackson from BBC Radio Leicester came to visit and we had a great couple of hours showing him round which, of course, all culminated in a tasting session! We were delighted that Tori (from Tori and Ben’s Farm, who supply us with their wonderful Longhorn beef) was able to join us. It all helped to give listeners the whole “from pasture to plate” experience.
In the afternoon we were joined by Mark Somerfield from Herte of England who writes about historically inspired gastronomy. He is putting an article together on the changing face of British Charcuterie, of which we are a big part. We talked a lot and one of the areas we seemed to keep coming back to was the thought of putting our stamp on products that have been traditionally made on the continent.
With the technology that is now available, it is totally possible to make air-dried meats every bit the equal of our European neighbours – but instead made with British meat with full provenance and some of the highest welfare standards in the world. As I have mentioned before, we have invested in some of the latest technology in terms of curing and maturing cabinets that make this possible. We make amazing salamis, bresaola, coppa and noix de jambon but now the challenge is surely to develop our own British equivalents.
We do have a tradition of making charcuterie type products in this country – we are famous of our bacons, gammons and hams for example. However without the climate to air dry we would use smoking as a form of preservation. Not only does the smoke add an extra layer of flavour to the meat and help to dry the product out, but the layer of smoke also has antiseptic qualities to help in the preservation process.
We have delved in the old recipe books for inspiration and we now make a Melton Hunt Beef – adapted from recipes dating to 1903 and even back to 1864 (thanks to David Mabey and Local Food Heroes). Traditionally anyone out hunting for the day would have eaten a long and filling breakfast, including a round of Hunt Beef. Forget Pastrami, here is a truly British product. The beef is cured with a mixture of bay leaves and shallots, juniper and all spice. It is then cold smoked over oak before being slowly cooked.
The English Longhorn beef that we use (championed by Robert Bakewell at Dishley Grange in Leicestershire in the mid C18) is reared on the lush, rich Leicestershire pastures. Surely we should be making more of this. Our experience of living in France certainly showed us that much is made of “terroir” – where geography, geology and climate express agricultural heritage. No more so than in wine making where two vineyards next door to each other can produce very different wines due to the nature of the soil and the climate. More to come on this I think!
And don’t forget that as a member of The Great Food Club you are entitled to a 10% discount on any purchases – either on the market stall or via the on-line shop (just enter coupon code GFC10 at the Checkout).
You’ll find us at the following events taking place in November:
Oakham Farmers Market (8.30am – 2.30pm)
Long Clawson Food Fayre (10.45am – 4pm) http://longclawsonfoodfayre.wix.com/long-clawson
Market Harborough (9am – 2pm) http://www.harborough.gov.uk/info/200066/markets/184/farmers_markets
Stamford Christmas Fayre SOSH – Stamford Arts Centre (10am – 3pm)
The Grand Hall, Oakham Castle (6.30pm – 8.30pm)
In association with Bat and Bottle Wine Merchants’ Christmas Tasting (please note £5 entry on the door)
Brooke Priory School Christmas Bizarre (2pm – 4pm)
Sat 29th & Sun 30th
Burghley Fine Food Market (10am – 3pm) http://www.burghley.co.uk/events-diary/
Or why not come and see us and pick up some goodies direct from the cellar door (Fridays til 5pm, or by appointment at any other time. Please phone beforehand if you are looking for something specifically).
Thanks again for reading!
Cheers for now, Nick