Sunday, 25 September 2011

'a chop & a hard place..'

The difference between up North - (a rather vague definition) & London is fairly astounding when it comes to meat. Londoners request bavette, cote de beouf and go through fillet like it's going out of fashion; whereas up North things are rather different, selling lots of roasting joints: topside, the occasional rib and brisket. The average spend per head is so far removed from what I am familiar with. But the biggest difference to me is that up North people are wanting local meat. They want to know exactly where it's from. And don't even think about presenting them with Iberico Pork or Wagyu Beef, unless you happen to stumble across a local producer. The emphasis  is so different. Priorities are different. And I find myself caught between a butchers chop and a hard place.

I still need full and total traceability on all meat - knowing exactly where it has come from. For that my absolutism can be described as fascist. And local is all relative any way, wherever you are is local. Surely, though, we should be supporting our 'local' economy our local farmers? And I know many butchers/chefs would argue that they would choose quality over local, and I think in this dog-eat-dog world that has to be done. And top of all of this you have the evil commodity of money. What's worth it and what isn't? Why should you spend an extortionate amount of money just for beef trim? 

I clearly don't know what the answer is to this rather inarticulate question - but I suppose the important thing is to keep asking the most important question when it comes to meat. The one that keeps us trying to produce better food from good quality producers. 'Why?' Whether it is 'Why is this so expensive?' to 'Why is this ridiculously cheap?' 'Why is the meat this colour?' Why do I find I can't cook this properly?!' If we stop asking why, we stop caring. 


Sunday, 18 September 2011

'a goring of butchers..'

Apparently the collective noun for butchers is a goring, and I have definitely worked with my fair share. I am now working with my 8th and 9th butcher. Many butchers in the UK stay with the same one and then they may go off to open their own shop or stay once fully trained. I have loved all of the different places I have worked in but I really value the breadth of experience that I have had. To be honest it's not necessarily just about how to cut the meat up properly (although that is, erm, the point). It's the tricks of the trade, that make it. And I don't mean cutting corners.

For instance, tying, packaging, chopping, sharpening, uniform, counter presentation, cleaning, storing, etc, etc.What is rather wonderful is that I'm actually starting to have opinions of my own, ideas of my own (eventually..). When doing certain tasks whether it's using the over-wrap machine or tying a certain way I think of who it was that taught me. I smile. Then I think of my butchering journey. And I've only been sat on the train for about five minutes.

Yesterday I did my first leg of pork with Butcher Mick. really enjoyed it, but it took me a while. I sent this photo of it to Butcher George who I used to work for, he said it was fine but the pig had dirty feet. Oh, there's that smile again.