Wednesday, 17 July 2013

New kids on the block

We're cheating a bit with today's blog post, as although we saw lots of goats at the Great Yorkshire Show, what we really want to talk about is Cabrito kid goat meat, new in the shops today. 

Cabrito - Spanish for meat of a young goat - was established by chef James Whetlor and farmer Jack Jennings, to make good use of male goats from the dairy industry which are usually slaughtered at birth each year. James and Jack buy goats from the dairy farms around Jack's Somerset farm, and give them a completely free range life, feeding them a natural diet of cereal supplemented by grazing and meadow hay. The goats reach slaughter weight at around six months, meaning that the meat is still nice and tender - quite different to the 'old' goat you might use in a curry. The kid meat has already been a hit with restaurants such as St John, Hix, Bocca di Lupo, Barrafina and Quo Vadis, and we're delighted to be giving it a try.

The meat is fairly low in fat but robust in flavour; some of the sweetness of lamb but with a bold, almost gamey flavour to it - a tiny hint of something which reminds you a little of a mellow goats' cheese. We think it pairs well with equally big flavours - mediterranean ingredients like peppers, capers, tomatoes, olives and lemon zest. Below are links to some delicious recipes (thank you Guardian people for letting us link to those!), but essentially you can treat kid meat in the same way you would lamb - legs can be roasted, shoulders want fairly slow cooking, and chops are ideal for the BBQ.

We only have one goat going to each shop this week, but if things go well we hope to keep selling the meat. We'd love to know if you try it!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Great Yorkshire Show: at the cow wash

Farming is inherently expensive business, requiring huge investment in livestock, costly machinery, veterinary care and feed, not to mention putting a great deal of faith into the weather (a bad year can put a farm out of business). This translates to livestock showing too, and as first-timers we had quite the bill on our hands! Showing isn't simply about turfing your best animals out of the field and into the ring, but about months of careful preparation - and in our case, investment in a brand new jet washer and cow blow-dryer (yes really). 

The atmosphere at the show on prep day - before everything is opened to the public - is quite relaxed, but the following morning it's buzzing with energy and the sound of blow-dryers. Breeders and handlers are up at 5am to start washing and grooming their animals, which, with a huge heft of a cow or bull, is quite the task. First the animals must be brushed from tip to toe, and get a little trim wherever necessary. Then it's off to the cow wash (yes, we sung the song too) for a full shampoo, then back to the sheds for a blow-dry with the aforementioned cow dryer. Owners will have performed this grooming ritual more than ten times in the run up to the show, and when the animals step into the ring they're as shiny and sweet-smelling as any L'Oréal advert (and they really are worth it too!).

Here's what goes on. Anyone want to lend us a hand next year?

Kit box, full of all the brushes, lotions and potions needed to spruce up a cow!
The cow wash; hundreds of cattle pass through each show, often 2-3 times (before each day's showing)
Even the calves must be cleaned up
Heave-ho! Getting this big fella clean is no easy task
Nicky Luckett and her prize bull Lohengrin. Nicky sold us our infamous bull Dynamo over 7 years ago,
and he's still going strong today.
London Operations Manager, Mable, is shown how it's done by Jim

Don't forget the tail!
Drying off

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Great Yorkshire Show

Agricultural shows are to farming and rural communities what music festivals are to, well, everybody else. On the surface they're an opportunity to get together with old friends and make new, see animals in their prime in the show ring, and - of course - enjoy the odd drink or three. For those who aren't necessarily involved directly in farming, agricultural shows provide a snapshot of rural life as well as a great day out for the family, with food halls, ferris wheels, markets stalls and games. 

But the purpose of the agricultural show runs much deeper than the fun stuff, fulfilling an important role in keeping alive farming tradition as well as developing and encouraging the next generation of farmers and animals. People don't simply show animals out of pride, but to strengthen the bloodlines of each breed, to try and ensure a long and strong future for our native animals as well a few continental imports such as British Limousin and Simmental. Pedigree livestock is often bought and sold on the strength the performance at an agricultural show, and this is something we're keen to do more of to grow our farming practices. 

Each day this week, we'll be giving you a little taster of our week at the Great Yorkshire Show, starting with...a little taster of the show. With over 2,000 animals and 130,000 visitors, there's an awful lot to take in - here are a few snaps from our week, enjoy.

Woolly Highlands, trying to cool off
Highland cow and calf
Our banner
Sarah and Jim handling Medlar and Maisie 
Glamorous judge of pigs gets the measure of this Berkshire
Smart judges; all in bowler hats 
Couple of Hampshire pigs
A pair of tuckered-out Tamworths