This month's theme is "You Swine", and although I could have submitted one of many family favourites I have decided to write about pork and specifically, Suffolk pork.
We have been visiting the stunning country of Suffolk for many years now. Long before Ruby came along, we discovered the delights of Grove Cottages and their doggy-friendly attitude. Chocolate Labradors seem to be universally loved in Suffolk and nobody bats an eyelid there if you take your dog into the pub or a shop. We've since discovered that they are equally child-friendly!
To me, pigs means Suffolk. Practically as soon as we've crossed the border from Cambridgeshire to Suffolk the landscape opens to acres and acres of fields dotted with adorable pink piggies and their little corrugated huts. It has become something of a tradition now, but the first person to spot the piggies has to shout "Oink Oink" to celebrate our arrival in Suffolk. I'm quite sure the hauliers in their artic lorries headed for the ports think we're mental, as they thunder past the car and see a grown woman with her head out of the window, oiking loudly.
On one of our very early trips, we'd read somewhere (I think the Observer Food Monthly) about a shop and smokehouse which we were determined to hunt down. Emmetts of Peasenhall (doesn't the name just do it for you?!) is tucked away in deepest Suffolk, on a glorious little village High Street of traditional shops. It has been trading from the same premises since 1820, and their cured, smoked hams have a royal warrant and numerous rave reviews in the national press.
The Suffolk hams are made following a recipe that goes back to the early 19th century. Taking 10 weeks to cure a ham, it is steeped in Suffolk stout, treacle and raw cane sugar for six weeks (being turned every day), then hotsmoked over oak sawdust for two or three days. The taste is to die for!
The store now boasts a little cafe, so it's well worth seeking out, and you should stock up on bacon, charcuterie, preserves and chutneys, British cheeses and Suffolk pressed apple juice.
Another porkie favourite to visit in Suffolk is Jimmy's Farm. We've been going here for years now, and although it has become more commercial over the years, and now has a restaurant, garden shop and even it's own music festival, it still retains it's charm. They have an action-packed calendar with loads of activities and seasonal events throughout the year. Ruby loves the nature trail and the adventure play park, and there's plenty to do to keep the family occupied for most of the day. The old man likes it because of what it stands for, because of the ethos behind Jimmy setting up the business, his passion for rare breeds and ethical farming, and his determined spirit. I love it because you get to see the gorgeous piggies snuffling about for acorns in the wood, and because I have more than a little crush on Jimmy.
|Image: Daily Mail. Oh to be that pig|
The farm shop sells an amazing range of superb quality sausages, bacon and the best black pudding I've ever eaten. They also sell meat boxes for delivery so fear not if you can't get to them.
The final Suffolk pig related activity I want to mention, is something I have wanted to do for ages, but sadly funds don't permit and the moment. Food Safari, based in Suffolk offer amazing workshops including a Free Range Pig in a Day course. Here you'll visit the farm to see how the animals are reared, and then:
After our farm visit, award-winning butcher, Gerard King, of the Suffolk Food Hall, will break down a pork carcass and talk about the different cuts of meat and their uses in the kitchen. Most importantly, some of the meat, will go straight off to the kitchen to be prepared for our lunch!
Once the meat is ready we'll get hands-on developing our own sausage recipes with whatever takes your fancy; blue cheese, ginger, fennel, paprika. Then we'll make our own sausages to be barbequed for lunch.
The day will wrap up with a relaxed pork lunch with beer and wine.
Sounds perfect! Check out their other workshops which include a Smokehouse Tour, Seafood in a Day, Artisan Bread in a Day, Children's Food Safari and many more.
I've included links to the featured companies twitter pages where I can, so come and follow them with me, and join me in my piggy love, and do check out the other entries on Oui Chef. x