Nature to plate, farm to table, freedom food, free-range, organic… it’s easy to get cynical about the idea of provenance. But while some undoubtedly overplay their hand in a bid to seduce customers wise to the notions of animal welfare, locality and seasonality, let’s not forget the many benefits a more enlightened approach to the sourcing of produce can yield.
For restaurant allium forging close relationships with local farmers and suppliers has always made sense. It helps establish us within the local cultural and business landscape. It ensures the freshest possible ingredients (making the most of the first-class produce that our corner of the country, the Cotswolds, luckily provides). And it gives us better control – getting exactly the raw materials we want, grown or raised in a way that suits our needs and satisfies our rigorous standards. When you regularly visit the farms that supply your animals, and even sometimes accompany the animals to the abattoir, there are no doubts that the quality of animal husbandry is absolutely top notch. And best of all for the customer, a happy animal is (in the hands of the right cook) a tasty animal.
This approach also works hand in hand with our use of in-house butchery. We take the entire carcass of a cow, sheep or pig, age the meat ourselves and then break each down into the required constituent parts. Again it ensures we have the right raw materials, with no waste, no mistakes and no disputing the fact that we’re making the very best of each animal.
Next week we’ll show a completed ‘nose to tail’ pork dish we’ve been readying for the new menu. But for now, here’s a brief look at some of the initial work that goes into ensuring every part of a suckling pig is put to good use. (And if you have any lingering reservations about suckling pigs, consider that ones such those we use actually live to a greater age than most chickens and to the same age as many spring lambs.)