Seasons of mists, mellow fruitfulness and food festivals
STOP PRESS: The little black dresses are out.
After last month’s celebrations when our Red Wine Jerky won a Two Star Great Taste Award and our Venison and Sloe Gin and Oak-Smoked Chorizo both picked up One Star Great Taste Awards, we thought that might be it for awards this year – after all three ain’t bad. But we have just heard that we have received a nomination for the Good House Keeping Magazine, small producers award. A gala evening in central London beckons as we head to Marylebone to see if we have another trophy to add to the growing collection. It is moments like this that make the long hours of prepping and packing so worthwhile – to know that customers are enjoying and appreciating what we do – so once again a BIG THANK-YOU to you all.
Food fairs galore
Two of the most popular annual food and drink fairs in the region are upon us. On Saturday and Sunday 2-3 September it is the North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival. This festival is a celebration of all that is best about food grown, reared, caught, made or sold in north Norfolk. It is a great event, with so many of north Norfolk’s finest food and drink producers attending.
The festival takes place in the spectacular setting of the Walled Garden at Holkham Hall. Historically filled with vegetables and flowers grown for the Hall, nestled within huge brick and flint walls that offer protection from the elements, they made for an ideal setting to celebrate the abundance of Norfolk.
There are a multitude of stall holders with products for sale including fresh meat and game, vegetables, cakes, artisan beer, bread, tarts, juices, cakes and bakes, chocolates and much more. A wide array of concessions offer delicious food for eating on site and entertainment ranges from the ever popular cookery theatre to children’s activities and face painting.
Just across the Norfolk/Suffolk border, the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival will be taking place towards the end of the month. Set in the beautiful grounds of Snape Maltings, the festival, which takes place on the 23-24 September has more than 90 producers from the local area. We will be joined by two of the companies we make charcuterie for – The New England Wild Boar Company and the Lamb Charcuterie Company.
Among the produce on offer will be including raw milk, organic vegetables, sourdough bread, award winning beer and spirits from sponsors Adnams, cyder from Aspall and delicious streetfood.
Charcuterie for everyone
We are often asked if our products are gluten, wheat and lactose-free and we are delighted to be able to say, with the exception of the jerky, yes they are. But it did get us thinking about charcuterie boards and how confusing it can be if you are looking for gluten, wheat or lactose free products. This blog post from Cassandra Erikson offers some good advice for people who are unsure about what they might find on their charcuterie board.
“Gluten hides in the strangest places. Even if everything on your plate looks like pure meat and veggies, flour & breadcrumbs are common binders for patés, terrines, and liver mousses.
If you have a serious gluten allergy or intolerance, let this be your quick guide!
DO – Enjoy cured meats that are visibly pure meat. Dried, cured sliced meats are less likely to have additives.
BE WARY – Sausage-looking meats and patés could have hidden binders like brioche crumbs, or flour. I have a lot of respect for servers, but sometimes they are wanting to upsell something to the table, they might not point out items with minute / trace levels of gluten. Honestly, servers are not chefs, they may not be trained on every ingredient that goes into your dish.
DON’T – Eat the bread, unless it’s gluten free.
DON’T – Be rude or ask for substitutions on dishes that are clearly not gluten free. Behind that menu is a chef that spends an insane amount of time and energy to prepare that dish, but also it is priced to be presented as-is. Asking to take something off and add double of something else is not always cost-effective and the business may actually be losing money serving you.
Some other gluten sources you may not think about when ordering Charcuterie:
Brined Meats – Soy is a common ingredient in marinades, sauces, and glazed foods
Factory Processed Meats – These may be manufactured or packaged in places gluten/soy containing foods are packaged. Try supporting local businesses getting their meats from a local farmer, or better yet, made in house!
Dips & Accoutrements – Bread is obviously not GF, but if you know the restaurant you are going to has an awesome butcher’s board, request potato chips, lettuce, polenta chips, or bring a small box of GF crackers and check with the wait staff before eating outside food at your table. Chances are if you are polite and honest about your allergy up front, they likely won’t have a problem with it. Bringing enough for the whole table would be rude, if you need to host a large group of GF guests, call the restaurant in advance to let them accommodate your food allergies or intolerances.”
Please feel able to just ask Jackie for more information on any of our Marsh Pig products.
2-3 September – North Norfolk Food and Drink Festival, Holkham Hall
16 September – Curing and Smoking Course
23-24 September – Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival, Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh
Smoking and Curing course
With Christmas (yes, we’ve said it) creeping up upon us, it is time to start thinking about making your own bacon and pancetta. Not only does it taste so much better the you have made it yourself, but it adds a wow factor for your family and guests as well.
Our ever-popular Smoking and Curing courses take place on a monthly basis throughout the year and we have been delighted with the results – course alumni often contact us to say how they are putting all they learnt on the course into practice. We have chefs, keen amateurs and complete beginners join us on our courses, it really is suitable and fun for everyone.
On the charcuterie course you will have a fun and informative day learning how to make delicious bacon, pancetta, biltong, beef jerky, fresh sausages and salami. As well as learning how to cure a whole muscle joint, which will produce Coppa or Bresaola.
You will take home the sausages and bacon you have made, as well as your very own salami to cure at home. You will also be given a collection of recipes to get you started on your curing and smoking adventure. Curing meat is one of the finest things you can do for your taste buds!
The course will take you through:
The different breeds of pigs, and the importance of quality meat selection.
Which cuts of meat are best used for curing.
Curing ingredients, and where to source them.
A range of techniques, including dry curing, cold smoking and air-drying.
You will also be shown how to build a simple cold smoker for under £100 so you can smoke all your meaty and fishy delights at home. We will also show you how to hot smoke salmon with a wok!
The next two courses are: 28 October and 18 November 2017. Courses cost £175 and run from 9.45-4pm. All course attendees will enjoy a breakfast and informal lunch as part of the cost. See the website for details.