Thursday, 25 February 2010

Richard Woodall Cumberland Sausage, Hams and Bacon

 On my return journey from Edinburgh, I took the opportunity to visit a place that I have seen on TV before - Richard Woodall's shop in Waberthwaite in the Lake District.  I think the Lake District has to be one of the most beutiful parts of England and at this time of year it has a certain bleakness to it that is hard to describe.  Anyway, Richard Woodall's shop is famous as being the first place to make prosciutto style ham in Britain.  He is also famous for being a supplier of pork products to the Queen, including bacon, sausages and the air-dried ham.  So, I could hardly pass up the chance to visit!

 Driving into the Lake District, I was almost immediately greated by some amazing views:
 But, that wasn't why I was here!  The village of Waberthwaite itself is really tiny, little more then a scattering of houses, a school and the famous post office / Richard Woodall's shop.  I grew up in a rural area in England so I am quite aware that many of these communities are struggling to survive these days and very often the closure of the local post office can prove to be the final straw.  It was really good to see an example of a business model that can clearly work, by combining the post office with something else, in this case the butchers shop, it becomes much more viable.  Of course, I'm sure it helps to have a famous product to draw people in.
 Inside, the shop was just amazing.  It's not very big, so the first thing that I noticed was the smell which comes from the hams hanging up from the ceiling:
 They sell these hams whole and assured me that one would last for a long time if I were to buy one.  However, I felt that that was probably a little bit too much ham to buy in one go, even for me!  So, I settled for a 250g pack of the air-dried ham.  They also sell sausages, which I already knew to be very good because I had some for my dinner the evening before at the Brown Cow Inn, also in Waberthwaite.
 Now that's a big plate of food!  There were two sausgaes, the mashed potato and swede, peas, chips and under the fried egg, a large piece of black pudding.  I have to admit that I wasn't really able to do it justice, but I did my best!  Really, without having spent the day out walking in the fells, I can't imagine that many people would be able to do better.

 Anyway, I was intrigued that Richard Woodall's sell their sausages by the yard, rather then in the short sausages that I usually buy from the supermarket.  I also picked up some smoked bacon and some unsmoked bacon, both of the short back variety.  I shall blog more about these things soon!  It almost goes without saying, but all of these fine products are made from locally reared pigs.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


I recently had the opportunity to visit Edinburgh, where many moons ago I used to live.  I'm one of those people that is really bad at getting around to doing all the tourist stuff when I live somewhere, so going back as a visitor gives me the chance to do just that!  As a tourist, I felt the one thing I really had to do was to visit Edinburgh Castle.  It was really interesting and well worth the £11 entrance fee in my opinion.  Here are some pictures.

The approach to the castle iteself:

 This is a view over the city towards Arthurs Seat, taken from the castle:

 More views of the city:
 Of course, I couldn't really write about this visit here on my blog without mentioning food in some way or another! So, here we are, I had lunch in the Queen Anne Cafe, which was really good.  Since I was in Scotland and doing the whole 'tourist' thing, I felt I had to have the haggis, with neeps and tatties:

 It tasted as good as it looks!  I lived in Scotland for some time, so I've had haggis before, many times.  I have to say that I rather like it.  All I can say is that if you've never tried it before, do so if you get the chance!  Here, the haggis itself is at the bottom, under a layer of tatties (mashed potato) and neeps (mashed turnip).  People often worry about what haggis is made of - commenting that it's all the disgusting parts of the sheep, but personally I consider the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys to be some of the more flavoursome parts.  All of this is mixed with oats and herbs and spices and well, really you'll just have to try it for yourself.

 Edinburgh is awash with tea shops - several of which are new since I was last there.  I have blogged about the botanical gardens before, but they have recently opened their new West Gate building, which houses a really rather nice resteraunt.  Having been terribly well fed every morning at my bed and breakfast, all I could face on this particular occasion was a cream tea, but it was really very good:


Sunday, 14 February 2010

Pickled beetroot & Chilli Jam

I had another trip to the Sunnyfields farm shop and market yesterday and couldn't resist picking up a couple of local items that I haven't tried before! These were Sunnyfield's own pickled beetroot and a jar of chili jam. I also picked up a bottle of English extra virgin, cold pressed rape seed oil, which I have blogged about before (see here) and makes a truly viable alternative to olive oil.

I'm quite a fan of pickled beetroot, since my parents used to make their own when I was young. Funnily enough, I don't think I liked it very much then! But, my tastes have changed a bit since then. Anyway, I had a simple salad for my lunch today, making use of chili jam and the beetroot. I also used some local eggs and some bread which I also got at Sunnyfields.

There are two cheeses here - a basic cheddar from the supermarket and some Lyburn Winchester Mature, which is very good.

The symbol to the left of the label on this cheese is the 'New Forest Marque', for which more information is available here. This seems like quite a good idea and apparently ensures that 'high standards of welfare and husbandry' have been applied (in the case of meat products, of course!). I have to say that whilst browsing around the market stalls at the Sunnyfields market, I noticed at least one alternative symbol apparently designating an origin within the New Forest area. I presume that this would be an unofficial symbol, so wouldn't indicate any kind of official endorsement. I shall blog on this subject again when I find out more.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Venison Meat Balls

One of the other products I picked up while I was last at Sunnyfields Farm Shop & Market was a pack of venison meat balls. I opted to cook these in the simplest way I could (my regular readers might spot a trend here!), which was to pan fry them and serve them with a rich tomato and herb sauce. Pan fry on a medium heat, turning occasionally until cooked through (the juices should run clear when they are cooked, but I prefer to cut one in half just to check - you can always cover this one with plenty of sauce so that no one can see!).

To make the sauce, heat some oil in a heavy-base sauce pan, then add a finely chopped onion and fry until soft. Add three cloves of garlic, finely sliced and a generous measure of finely chopped basil and parsely. I tend to use dried herbs, but I am hoping to start growning my own once the weather starts to get a bit warmer. Season with freshly ground black pepper and continue to fry, stiring often, for another minute or so. Add a tin of chopped tomatos. At this time of the year, there are no British tomatos available and the tinned variety offer an excellent way of getting a good, solid tomato flavour into food. Go for the highest quality ones you can, the own-brand ones can be OK, but they tend to be more acidic than the slightly more expensive varieties. Add a generous measure of soy sauce, cover and simmer gently. Leave to simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes. The soy sauce should add enough salt, but taste the sauce as it's cooking and add more if you feel it needs it.

I served my venison meat balls with the tomato sauce and peas on a bed of pasta.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Sunnyfields Farm Shop and Market

It's been a while since I last shopped at a farmers market, so I was keen to see what Sunnyfields ( market and farm shop would have to offer. I was not disappointed! For one thing, they have a fairly nice cafe which serves good, wholesome food cooked on site. I had my lunch there when I went, which was apparently their 'sustainable dish of the day'. It was sausages and mash and it was really rather good.

As well as serving really rather good food, they have a small but well stocked farm shop and an open-air market. The shop has a good selection of organic vegetables, meat and dairy products. The market appears to be attended by a number of local producers, offering a good selection of produce! It's well worth checking out I would say!

Whilst I was there, I picked up some excellent bacon and some 'traditional' Venison sausages, both of which were excellent.

Both of these were good, but the venison sausages were fantastic. I cooked them in the oven, at 180C for about 40 minutes. I served them with boiled potatos, peas and the chutney I made from the tomatos I grew back last summer.