From the meat pen of Signor Fiandaca
In the same way that Mark Kermode claims that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is not about spying and Jaws is not really a story about a Shark (apparently it is about infidelity), to a certain extent Meat Club is not really about meat. It is really about stories. Not only the stories that a group of men who meet up every month or so can share over fine wine and amazing food but also the stories that a restaurant or its chef might have.
And our latest foray to this end did not disappoint as we descended on the Newman Street Tavern on Newman Street. This lovely little country pub style restaurant prides itself on own serving the freshest and local produce from the UK. Our menu was clearly meat based and we kicked off with their sharing charcuterie which consisted of Saucisson made with garlic and Tamworth pork, Lardo, chorizo British Lop, Pate made with pig and kid, heart, lungs, livers, Tamworth mince, caul fat to wrap & bay leaves for savoury goodness and Brawn.
We later found out as we toured the kitchen that the Chorizo was made by a Tamworth pig that was bought from Paddock farm in Norfolk. The beast apparently was one bad mother, rolling over and squashing 2 sets of piglets before being turned into charcuterie here at Newman St – the lardo was made with a dry salting alone while the chorizo was made with a lactofermentation using their own homemade sauerkraut juice. I am wondering whether it would have tasted as delicious if I had known that the pig had been a child killer!
The Venison Pickle on the other hand was made with wild shot fallow deer from south Devon, that was shot by Kevin Bartlett, their crab supplier, hung for a week then minced and cooked very slowly with lemon, onion, ginger and spice with lots of oil.
For the first main we had Suckling Kid, leeks & wild garlic. I have to say that it felt slightly wrong eating a kid and consequently was probably the only dish that I did not enjoy so much (although have to admit I still cleaned my plate). It turns out that these kids are used by Mary Holbrooks as an essential part of the cheese making process but as they end up drinking all the milk, Mary slaughters them, well fed and fat on milk and sells to us through april, may & june.
The second main was right up my street – a 10oz Galloway Beef Sirloin & sides. These cows actually live on the hill, actual steep coarse ground in Lanarkshire and take unto 30 months to mature, aged for five weeks and then were butchered for us, giving it the unmistakable flavour of virtually wild grass fed beef, cooked over charcoal to help it on its way. However the thing that really made this course was the vegetable garnish, which was appropriately (the second rule of Meat club is no vegetables) the most divine pulled beef which simply melted in the mouth.
We finished with a sticky toffee pudding which was based on the post war pudding made originally by Francis Coulson in Ulswater, aimed at helping to stave off the meat sweats with the instant sugar of dates followed by a caramel rush. This was then followed by a cheese selection which included Ticklemore goats cheese, Ticklemore, Tymsboro (made by Mary Holbrook), Barltett, Stawley, St. James and my favourite, the buttery and rich Colston Bassett Stilton.
Anyway overall we had a fantastic night in a tavern that is rich in stories, full of flavours and has bags of personality. Thanks Caroline and Peter, I am sure I will be back soon (although this time it might be with a vegetarian – sorry!).
P.S. Hello to Jason Isaacs