Pasture Beef tasting success at London restaurant
One Friday in January, The Table Café, a hidden gem on Southwark Street on London’s South Bank, was abuzz with farmers, butchers and diners, all chatting about ‘Pasture for Life’ beef and trying to find the words to describe its taste and flavour.
Chef Shaun Alpine-Crabtree, had invited certified 100% grass-fed beef producers Anna Blumfield, Dan Bull, Simon Cutter and Catherine and Graham Vint to bring meat from their farms to be cooked and tasted on the night.
Anna provided some rump from one of her Sussex cattle farmed in Essex and Dan also supplied rump from a beef shorthorn from the Lambourn Downs in Berkshire. Simon brought some Hereford sirloin from a seven year old cow, and Catherine the skirt from an Aberdeen Angus from Oxfordshire.
Finding the words to describe beef
While the beef was resting, wine expert and award-winning wine blogger Matt Walls, encouraged diners to think beyond whether they liked each piece of meat and decide ‘why’ they liked it.
James Swift, owner of award winning artisan food business, Trealy Farm Charcuterie was passionately convinced that the meat would have a distinct flavour due to where it came from – the ‘terroir’ which gives them each a sense of place.
The different breeds would also generate a difference, as would what they had eaten throughout their lives. Traces of the pastures they had grazed would give a unique flavour, he said.
And so it turned out to be: every piece of beef tasted delightfully different.
The taste and smooth texture of the Sussex skirt was a revelation to many, and to cost-conscious chef Shaun, who runs the only independent restaurant on this part of Southwark Street, it scored highly on economic grounds too.
The beef shorthorn had a stronger, more complex flavour and was the favourite of quite a few diners.
The older cow had a finer texture with more fat, which melted on the tongue, giving overall a more buttery favour.
The Aberdeen Angus was rich and sweet and very easy to eat.
Certified Pasture for Life butcher Ricky Jeffries told everyone how he wants to sell the best meat he can through his shop, the Egghouse Butchery in Haddenham.
He is convinced of the merits of 100% grass-fed meat. He is customer-led and has had the best feedback in 15 years of trading, when selling Aberdeen Angus certified meat from Tom Morrison at Hogshaw Hill Farm.
Chef Shaun concluded the evening by saying that now is the time to get the message of real grass-fed meat out to the public. But it has to be done delicately, not by forcing the story down people’s necks. In future he might offer diners a small plate menu of meat from different farms and train the waiting staff to tell the ‘Pasture for Life’ story.
The evening went on well into the night with lots of chatter and discussion.
Another tasting evening is planned this spring to celebrate the different flavour and textures of ‘Pasture for Life’ mutton, hogget and lamb!