Thursday, 21 November 2013

PORK - Preparing, curing & cooking by Phil Vickery & Simon Boddy

Well Christmas as certainly come early for myself this year 2013, for it is mid Novemeber and whilst I was enjoying a Full English breakfast it was quite apt that my postman arrived clutching a brown parcel with a book inside explaining how to make those all important breakfast ingredients like; sausage, bacon, ham and much more.

That newly published book titled PORK is authored by my good friend Phil Vickery along with his friend Simon Boddy. Not many of us will know that Phil has a huge appetite for all things farming, we just see him on telly doing his other passion, yes cooking. But I can tell you he has a thirst for farming knowledge and for all that it encompasses especially in the production of food and how best we do this. I remember some farmer friends of mine on the Isle of Bute in Scotland ringing me after Phil had visited them, he was there to film about their smoked meat produce and albeit he expressed his interest in the produce, my friends said very happily, Phil just wanted to quiz them both on how they farm their land in such a unique landscape and how the cattle and sheep cope with the extreme weather etc etc. To converse with Phil on such a topic pleased my farmer friends more than having the film crew there to cover their story on smoked food.

So it was of no surprise at all that to read this book and find stories that relate to the rearing of livestock in particular the pig given Phil's interest. I don't know Simon his butchery friend, we have never met, however I feel I've been in his company many times having read his tales on butchery and pig rearing. I would relish the chance to meet him and have a colourful debate over his comments on page 14 over whether traditional breeds offer the best in flavour (of coarse they do) whilst we are downing an ale or two of coarse. If we could include Peter Gott too in the room, then it would be definately a night to remember for sure...

Anyway back to this book, it's been a while since such an honest inclusion of recipes that salute the pig has been put together, of coarse this is Phil's domain and he is considered one of the top chefs in the country who knows best on how to use British produce. He also very cleverly finds the balance by including some recipes from his travels with inspiration from the Americas, Asia and Europe thus tempting us to try them. However by partnering with his butchery friend Simon they have also included an element of charcuterie recipes where families can get together, timely given now that they are returning to tasking themselves in carrying out forms of basic sausage making and the curing of homemade bacon and hams. The charcuterie recipes included by Simon are similar to my own, so I know the reader is in for a real treat when they come to eat their first homemade bacon butty.

An odd thing to say perhaps, however I'll say it anyway, "I trust this book so much" I'm going to include it in my charcuterie classes for my fellow students to browse with an added inclusion in my course handouts as to where they can purchase a copy. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Gentle Art of Preserving by Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi

Earlier this year I predicted that preserving would be the in thing in the foodie world, this topic is not new as we know, but I think it is right on trend at the moment as we have seen much of it now being screened on our televisions in the form of jam making amongst baking programmes, chutneys being covered by daytime chat shows and gravlax on other evening food programmes etc.

There are many books on this subject in circulation but none written down in the way that Katie and Giancarlo have approached the subject. As the title suggests "the gentle art of PRESERVING" this book is laid down so that the whole family can get involved and easily attempt and succeed in preserving their favourite foods whether that may be fruits, vegetables or maybe fish and meats.

I myself have spent time with the family Caldesi at their home and at their restaurant in Bray, I witnessed first hand their grit and determination in ensuring all that they were to pass on was fully tested by themselves, their family, their friends, their colleagues at the restaurant, even their customers and not to mention all those who happened to drop by their home (OK, I was referring to myself).

Katie took me in the garden and showed me the Wendy House that she had proudly converted into a smokehouse (not sure why they had a Wendy house in the garden when their children consist of two boys). The pictures of the Wendy house in the book may look like an house fire at first, but it demonstrates that you can adapt what ever you may already have at home without having to spend money unnecessary.

I've been preserving food for many years and yet whilst sampling the wares in the Caldesi kitchen that they had produced in their research for their book, I found myself learning a lot more about preserving than I already knew (I must remember to blag a copy of their book, if only to access that Sloe Gin recipe). One of the recipes they include is the brining of chicken, oh what a revelation this is if you have never done this before. The process does many things to the chicken, but the best one of all is it allows the most novice cook to fully roast the bird without it ever becoming too dry, it remains moist and flavourful and allows the cook to be applauded for having such skill.

The day I popped into the Caldesi home kitchen luckily was a day when Giancarlo was just about to start butchering a pig, this being my territory, I was intrigued at how he would tackle the job. It was fascinating watching him butcher the pig for both British and Italian cuts and sometimes he would do this single handidly as his mobile phone was too often in his other hand taking calls from the media etc.

But not to be outdone Katie was busy making up brines and preparing salt crocks to house the cuts I later saw like Guanciale, Lardo and Coppa all of which she cured whilst getting ready the off cuts to produce various salami.

The Caldesi's have previously written many books and this new book is as well written as their earlier books, they surprised me constantly by travelling to all corners of Europe to double check that their researched recipes were accurate and that the preserving techniques were as they should be.

This is a book that will bring families together and at different times of the year, it is a book that will educate, a book that will reward you and it is a book where siblings will argue as to who will have it handed down to them!

If there was ever a book to buy this coming Christmas, then surely it has to be this one....

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Rusty Pig

Recently I visited the Rusty Pig in Ottery St Mary in Devon with my good friend Mick Whitworth the editor of the . We are so lucky that Robin Rea a local lad who after working with such people as Michael Caines and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall as come home to open this bijou cafe/charcuterie/restaurant.

Piggin Delicious

Like these diners, myself and Mick enjoyed the breakfast

Back in 5 Oinks

Robin Rea

This charming business complete with it's friendly team of staff offer you a unique insight into the world of British Charcuterie, I'm going to stop there with my comments and ask you to click through to Robins website and see for yourself what they do.

The one thing I will say is; make sure you visit on a day they cook breakfast......

Monday, 12 August 2013

Hampshire Charcuterie Launch at the New Forest Show 2013

A few pictures from the recent Hampshire Charcuterie Launch at the New Forest Show which was unveiled by the Countess of Wessex.
I didn't have the Countess on my radar as being a "Foody" how wrong was I, she chatted at great length about food, including mentioning her family butcher and that she had recently tasted some fabulous mutton charcuterie at the Kelso Show.

Charcuterie board and book gifted to the Countess of Wessex

The BBC news team using pies(charcuterie) for a pye chart on an report on immigration 

Sarah Hunt the Food & Farming section show organiser
Great job Sarah!

Tracy, Anna & Jane

These guys are having too much fun!

Sarah hard at it as usual..

Simon punting his black pudding, lovely it was too (shame it wasn't real blood though). 

Sarah still grafting

Are you still here?

Charcuterie tattoo such is the growing fashion today in this subject

Are they still filming...

Sarah and the Royal Protection team discussing something, what were you saying Sarah?

Cor, he's still there filming..

Angela Hartnett a very admired professional cook, thanks for taking the trouble Angela!

Ah thats me discussing charcuterie with Her Royal Highness

Isn't she lovely?
Sarah still working....
 Well done to all at Hampshire Fare with their Hampshire Charcuterie Project, you are leading the way in local food & fare....

Saturday, 3 August 2013



Wednesday 31 July 2013

For immediate release


After two years of training and hard work a group of local pig farmers today unveiled their own range of charcuterie to the public. The producers were honoured to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex to their stand at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show to officially launch Hampshire Charcuterie.

The launch marked the culmination of the ‘Preserving the Hampshire Hog’ project which was created and led by the county food group, Hampshire Fare and supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund. The project was designed to tackle the challenges faced by pig farmers including increasing feed costs and a lack of European funding. The future was looking uncertain for our local pig farmers with many losing £20 per pig reared.

Two years on and the farmers involved in the project are now more confident about the sustainability of their businesses. The project has given them the opportunity to have training from charcuterie expert, Marc-Frederic Berry. As evident at today’s New Forest and Hampshire County Show they are now skilled charcutiers themselves with the ability to create salami, chorizo, pâté, bresaola, pancetta from their locally reared meat. This diversification into new products extends the shelf life of the producers’ meat through curing and adds value to the meat.

Hampshire Charcuterie was launched by HRH The Countess of Wessex during today’s New Forest and Hampshire County Show. After chatting to the producers and sampling some charcuterie the Countess unveiled a wooden plaque to mark the start of Hampshire Charcuterie. Mike Wright, Chairman of Hampshire Fare, spoke at the launch:

“Hampshire Fare has worked closely with local producers to deliver an innovative project. We are extremely proud of the outcome. The success of the project is evident in today’s amazing display of delicious charcuterie made from Hampshire meat by our talented local producers.

The project has only been possible thanks to the support of The Prince’s Countryside Fund and the talents of Marc-Frederic Berry. We are all very excited about the future of Hampshire Charcuterie. We ask local restaurants to get behind the products and feature them on their menus and for members of the public to support Hampshire Charcuterie too. Help us to preserve the Hampshire hog!”

The Hampshire Charcuterie stand certainly drew in the crowds at today’s show with visitors commenting on the array of flavours and quality of the products. Rob Golding from Hayling Island was impressed by the salami: “It is delicious and it is great that we can buy it and be supporting local producers. I also like the idea of knowing the provenance of the charcuterie and the fact that it is great quality.”

Hampshire Charcuterie is being produced across the county by independent producers working together on the range. For more details of how to try and buy Hampshire Charcuterie visit or call Hampshire Fare on 01962 847098.

Charcuterie – explained by the expert, Marc-Frederic, in his book ‘Le Charcutier Anglais’.

“Charcuterie is the artisan skill of taking raw meat and preserving it by curing, smoking, cooking or a combination of all three methods. Some examples are; Jambon, Boudin Noir, Gayettes, Fromage de Tête and Pâté en Croute (translated as ham, black pudding, faggots, brawn, and pork pies) – to name just a few.”


·     Images – press photographers were in attendance but a link to photos will be circulated by Hampshire Fare as soon they have been approved by the Royal press office.

·     ‘Preserving the Hampshire Hog’ was launched in 2011 by Hampshire Fare. The project has engaged more than 30 farmers and producers with more than 10 now stocking their own Hampshire Charcuterie. The project was funded by The Prince’s Countryside Fund. More background about the project is available online:

·         Comments from project participants: Martin Martindale from Greenfield Pork Products “The project has taught me a whole range of techniques I didn’t know and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn. I have been able to experiment with these new skills to come up with a range of charcuterie I can now offer my customers. Over time I can see that it is really going to help my business,”

Simon Broadribb from Uptons of Bassett: “The project has inspired me to do more and create new products. We now offer products including lardo, chorizo and black pudding. The reaction from the public has been really encouraging.”

Hampshire Fare is supported by Hampshire County Council, together with Hampshire Fare’s Corporate Partners: Ecover UK LTD, Fuller Smith & Turner, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, Ideal Collection, leepeckGroup, Newsquest (Southern) UK, Sparsholt College, The Southern Co-operative and Wave 105; and our Corporate Friends: Apollo Internet Media, Ascot Racecourse Ltd, Business Solent, Guildhall Winchester, Handover HR, The National Trust, New Forest & Hampshire County Show, NFU Mutual, Starfish Creative Design, Upham Brewery. Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hampshire and New Forest Marque are Strategic Partners.

Hampshire Fare aims to:

·     increase awareness among the public and trade of the wide range of local produce available

·     champion local food, drink and craft

·     foster good business practice and assist producers to compete as viable enterprises

·     encourage high standards of production and presentation

·     organise marketing activities - festivals, exhibitions and promotions - to promote food, drink and craft from Hampshire

·     develop initiatives to incorporate local food and drink into public sector menus

For further information please contact:
Nancy Judge
PR Officer
01962 845435
Visit our website and sign up for our e-newsletter at:
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Hampshire Fare C.I.C.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Pig Board

It's not often I receive gifts and certainly it's not often that they turn out to be practical ones like this pig board made by my good friend Adrian Morgan.

I was flabbergasted when he presented me with it, so I would like to say Thank You to you Adrian via my blog and to say how grateful I am....Now where's those pigs!

By the way Adrian made this pig board from re-cycled plastic, if you don't mind me giving him a plug, take a few minutes to checkout his website  and then you can say you've read it, read it, read it....

Cheers Adrian

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Charcuterie the craft of salting smoking & curing

Recently I was approached by New York publishers WW Norton & Company asking would I be interested in reviewing a revised & updated version of Charcuterie by authors Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Of coarse I was delighted and bursting inside with pride that I had been asked, you see I've had these two men on my wish list of who I would most like to meet and work with for some years now and this request felt like I was a step nearer to that goal.

Having read the revised copy that was sent to me recently, my gut re-action was to respond to the publisher and jokingly say " I think it's the 2nd best book on the subject of charcuterie in the marketplace" however these guy's havn't yet met me so I'll withold using my sense of humour and give a sensible and worthy response.

For several years now whilst travelling mainland Europe including France and sometimes beyond to teach charcuterie, I'm often faced with Michael & Brian's book in the classroom, this set's a standard for my teachings for I know the students having read and studied the book their knowledge bar will have been set very high indeed.  Their books I already include as tools and points of reference in the many classrooms and cookery schools I teach at throughout the United Kingdom including supplying the information where to buy them, such is the importance that I attach to the content.

I can't finish this blog without a quick reference to their book "Salumi" as I feel it is their strongest work so far. The book has a calmness about it, as if the men themselves are now comfortable with their subject and this portrays right throughout their book. Imagine being in good company and eating alfresco with some de-canted red wine along with some freshly baked bread, cheese and salumi, yes you can?, well that's how their book reads and feels whilst thumbing the pages....

The men say themselves their knowledge has deepened since first writing their book Charcuterie as it does with all of us whilst on our culinary journeys, however they have been wise enough to revise and update their original book in order that we can benefit from that learning.

This is a book that will go down in the time of history as being one of the most important references to the craft of salting, smoking & curing...

Le Charcutier Anglais - July 2013

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Soil Association Organic Food Awards 2013

A brief glimpse of the Soil Association Organic Food Awards on day two..

Early in the morning setting up

Chef how did you do it all?

Boy or a Girl !

It's a huge honour to be asked to judge food at any awards function and even a greater honour to be asked to judge the top organic food in the country, here are a few pictures that demonstrate the detail in excellence.. 
A beautifully crimped pasty

A Hand Raised Pork Pie

Refreshments were supplied all day in order that we could clean our palates inbetween sampling..

The early morning sun added just enough heat to sample these oils at the best temperature

Pasta's & Pulses

The samples went on and on..

and on and on and on..

Trevor deep in thought and hard at work finding the soup section challenging...

Take another slurp Trevor!

And another Trevor and another.....

Geetie did you really say that would make great baby food? 
Michelle with the best re-action of the day
"by jove that was good"

Guy Watson and his team debating a Gold winner

Jo Wood deciding to have a lie down while the debate continues

Now the chicken, we had long legs, short legs, plump legs and they all had to be eaten, phew this is a hard job..

Not to mention we also had to eat some small birds, big birds, plump birds.....I have to mention here without giving the game away, one of the best tasting chickens in the blind tasting turned out to be a British traditional breed...

A lot of time and butchery effort went into this entry, well done who ever you are... 

Now we have to eat all the lamb entries..

I just need to mention something so I'll slip it in here. As with all food competitions they were some poor entries, so to you guy's I would like to say this; please think about presenting your entry in the very best way you possibly can, ask yourself have you done enough, can I do it better? Frustratingly some of you were only a whisker away from a gold award. If it helps you to achieve your goals, then consider hiring yourself a professional to push your entry to the next level. Sorry, just trying to be helpful "Rant" over!   

They were racks of lamb, cushions of lamb, chump of lamb and much more...

Chef said he was setting his timer, he promises he wasn't tweeting!
We also had to eat bacon, sausage and much more on the day, in fact a sausage Gold winner chosen on the day also happened to be the best in the history of the competition, also a surprise Hot Dog entry was also of very high quality. A few other entries that took me by surprise were an excellent Ketchup and a Mulled Wine satchet that had been perfectly blended, I wasn't expecting to be excited by these entries as they are not normally on my radar as was a Chowder Soup which was not rated in the competition by the other judges, but I can tell you I ate the lot so nice I thought it was, so if that was your chowder, Well Done!

There is no doubt that Organic food is some of the best there is available as judging on this day proved, so if you get a chance, buy some organic products and try them for yourself, there's no better reward for a producer than a sale. Believe you me the producer would rather have you the customer than a Gold award, however the Gold award does demonstrate that you can trust the source and you can be confident in knowing that the producer has made every effort to provide you with the very best possible.

Did I tell you that the Duke of Cambridge the venue for the competition also made us lunch, can you believe it, having to eat a lunch on top of all that....

Go on, choose Organic you know it makes sense.....