Today is the start of National Butchers’ Week, a celebration of the skills and services of independent butchers throughout the country.
Butchers have traditionally been a town staple along with greengrocers, bakeries and post offices. Today these have mostly been compiled into supermarkets and many towns no longer benefit from the one-to-one interaction with their butcher. In the 1990’s the Meat Trades Journal reported that there were 22,000 butchers in the UK, by 2010 this had dropped to 7,100.
However recent food trends including increased concern over trace-ability and, amid growing climate concerns, the need for quality over quantity in our meat, have resulted in a resurgence in traditional butchers. Below we look at three local butchers and their products.
Established in March 1996 Tim Potter Family Butchers began with just 3 members of staff, today there are 9 including son Christopher and daughter Katie who now runs the Katie’s Pantry part of the business.
Committed to supplying the best quality meats to their customers Tim Potter provide a range of products including traditional beef, lamb and pork joints as well as award-winning sausages and their own seasoned kebabs and BBQ range. They also stock a range of locally sourced cheeses, butters and deli products. The business credits its success on its focus on local produce, fantastic customer service and selling quality meat at realistic prices.
Clive Downs Butchers
Situated in Porlock in Somerset Clive Downs Butchers was established over 20 years ago and has been managed by Derek Weeks, an experienced butcher who has worked in the trade for 40 years, since 2017. Their products include locally sourced lamb, beef and various game as well as handmade sausages including venison with redcurrant and pork with tomato and basil. Clive Downs also supply a number of Chunk of Devon pies such as the Chicken & Bacon and the Steak & Ale.
Lloyd Maunder – West Country Family Butchers
The eponymous Lloyd Maunder took over his father’s butchers shop in Witheridge in 1898. He then proceeded to expand the business by selling meat and dairy products to customers in London and became one of the first major suppliers to Sainsbury’s. The first Lloyd Maunder shop opened in 1913 in Tiverton and today there are 14 branded shops throughout the South West. Their product range includes traditional lamb, beef and pork as well as their popular ‘meat for a week’ deals and dinner party selections. Many of the shops now have deli counters serving local artisan cheeses, salads, pies and marinated meats which are proving popular with their customers.
There are many other fantastic family owned butchers that we could have mentioned here and this can only be a sign of the continued success of the traditional butcher. Happy National Butchers’ Week!
This time last year the first vegan cheese shop in the UK opened its doors. La Fauxmagerie was immediately hit with a media storm when Dairy UK, the dairy industry trade association, sent a letter requesting that owners Charlotte and Rachel Stevens stop describing their products as cheese because it was potentially misleading to customers.
A year on and the number of people turning to vegan and plant based diets is continually rising with many abstaining from meat and dairy in a bid to halt the inevitable environmental impact of farming and agriculture.
This year Veganuary – a nonprofit organisation that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January – reported that over 400,000 people registered to take part compared to 250,000 in 2019. This success is due in part to the rise in availability of vegan products in supermarkets, restaurants and take-away outlets. KFC in particular posted that one million of their new vegan burgers were sold in the first month of sale, the equivalent of one every three seconds. But while plant based burgers have now hit the mainstream vegan cheese seems to have been left behind
This could be because unlike their ‘meat’ counterparts many vegan cheeses have failed to emulate the taste, texture and appearance of traditional cheeses with many described as being bland, and ‘plasticky’. However some brands are beginning to experiment with new ingredients and ‘ageing’ methods as well as developing bacterial cultures similar to those used in the dairy industry.
We have just begun to stock a Cheddar style vegan cheese from Nature & Moi, a French company specialising in dairy free, plant based food. This cheese arrived early last week and was duly cut and tasted by everyone. The verdict?
To preface we are all very much not vegan; we love cheese and our Cheddar range, being mostly from Devon and the West Country, is of excellent quality (if we do say so ourselves!). So this cheese had a lot to live up to.
The texture of the Nature & Moi Cheddar is smooth and supple and while not completely replicating the dense, richness of traditional Cheddar, this one did a fairly good job. The flavours are mild and slightly nutty with a mellow creaminess reminiscent of a very mild cheddar. Overall we thought that this cheese was “not at all bad” which, coming from a group of hardcore cheese lovers, was high praise indeed.
Click here to view the Nature & Moi cheese on our website for more info.
Cheese has been made in Britain for thousands of years; our moderate climate, year round rain and lush rolling landscape make the country – and more importantly for us the West Country – ideal for dairy farming. As wine is renowned for its ‘terroir’ so cheese develops flavours unique to the grass, soil and climate in/on which the animals graze. In small scale dairies this results in cheeses with different depths of flavour dependent upon these factors which sets them apart from manufactured cheese and production line dairies. In the following blog we explore three West Country dairies and the delicious cheeses that they produce.
The Barber family have been producing their traditional farmhouse cheddar since 1833, making them the world’s oldest surviving cheddar-makers. Daniel Barber began making cheese on Maryland Farm in rural Somerset mainly for his family and farm workers using milk from his own herd of cows. However as demand for the cheese grew more milk was needed and by the 1950’s the family were working with surrounding farms to keep up production.
Today the farm is still very much a family business who have not lost their passion for cheese-making. Time honoured techniques and recipes passed down through the generations combined with modern technology have ensured the longevity of this traditional cheddar. We stock a wide range of Barber’s cheeses including the Vintage Reserve 1833, the Mellow cheddar and the Haystack Tasty as well as their Red Leicester and Double Gloucester cheeses. Click here to view the whole Barber’s range.
Lynher Dairies are producers of the award-winning Cornish Yarg cheese. First made in the 1980s on Bodmin Moor by Alan Grey, who found the 17th century recipe for nettle-wrapped cheese in his attic, Yarg is now made by Catherine Mead at their custom built dairy near Truro. Other cheeses include a Garlic Yarg, Stithians cheese and the Cornish Kern which won Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2017. The rich Cornish milk used in the cheese-making process comes from their own herd of Aryshire cows and is also sourced from nearby farms. This coupled with the cheese-makers’ experience and expertise results in some truly delicious cheeses. We currently stock the classic Yarg and the Garlic version.
Robin Congdon was the original pioneer behind Ticklemore Cheese Dairy. In the 1970’s he began reviving the tradition of sheep milking in the UK and, with thirty sheep on a smallholding near Exeter, began producing yogurt and soft cheeses. Soon he and his partner Maurice Ash expanded the business to a larger farm on the banks of the River Dart where the Beenleigh Blue and later Harbourne Blue and Devon Blue cheeses were developed. The 1980’s were an exciting time for producing speciality cheeses and a larger dairy was built to accommodate new varieties including Ticklemore Goat and Devon Rustic – both of which were given to Sharpham Creamery once production needed to be simplified. We stock their Devon Blue and Beenleigh Blue cheeses.
There are many more dairies and cheeses that we could have mentioned here which proves just how lucky we are to live and work in this beautiful county. The hard work of dairy owners and the expertise of its cheese-makers ensures that the West Country cheese remains a renowned speciality.
This Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th October Powderham Castle plays host to a foodie festival celebrating the finest South West food and drink producers.
Now in its eighth year the festival features cookery demonstrations from chefs Nick Evans from Rick Stein’s Cookery School, Jim Fisher from Exeter Cookery School and Great British Bake Off 2018 contestant Briony Williams. This year organisers will also be introducing four miniature ‘villages’ within the festival including Gin & Fizz, Feast of Fire, Wellness and Chocolate tents each with their own demonstrations and tasters.
Over 150 food and drink producers will be attending the event including our favourite Cornish cheese producers the Cornish Cheese Co. and Cornish Gouda. The Cornish Cheese Co. have been making their award-winning cheese since 2001 and in 2010 their Cornish Blue scooped Champion Cheese at the World Cheese Awards. It is light and mild with a dense rich creaminess without the tang of traditional English blues and is best enjoyed young.
Cornish Gouda use milk from their own herd of Holstein cows and traditional Dutch cheese-making techniques to produce their ever popular Cornish Gouda. The medium Gouda is smooth and creamy with a distinct nutty flavour while the mature is rich and buttery with nods to indulgent caramel.
We hope you enjoy the festival!