PFLA celebrates Love Lamb Week 2019

Food journalists, butchers and chefs from London and surrounds were invited to a lamb tasting organised by the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) this week to coincide with Love Lamb Week.

The organisation which manages the Pasture for Life certification mark for 100% grass-fed and grain-free beef, lamb and dairy produce, coordinated the same cuts of lamb from four different farms, including one sample purchased from a supermarket.

Advisor to HRH The Prince of Wales’ Mutton Renaissance Cyrus Todiwala hosted the event at his London restaurant Café Spice Namaste.  A shoulder with bone in, and a rolled breast from each farm were slow cooked from early in the morning.

The three producers of the Pasture for Life lamb presented their produce as it was served and explained how they each farm.  These included Nick Miller and Sarah Dickens from Pen-y-Wyrlod farm near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, Fidelity Weston from Romshed Farm in Kent and Nick Shaylor from Mill Farm in Hampshire.

Chef host Cyrus gave great insight to his knowledge of cooking sheep meat.  Having sourced increasing amounts of meat used in his restaurants from pasture-fed farms he explained how it cooks differently.  In particular when adding spices and flavouring he finds some meats will lock up the flavours whereas pasture-fed meat is more predictable to cook with.

As each sample of lamb was tasted the guests were asked to describe the flavours they experienced.  There were a range of aromatic terms used from “buttery” to “sweet”, and comments on length of flavour, some lingering for longer than others, and discussions around the texture of the meat.  All samples were delicious but remarkably different.

Farmers Nick and Sarah who have just won a 2-star Great Taste award for their Black Welsh Lamb, think that the different flavours of lamb should be showcased in the same way as craft beers, wines, or whiskey sourced from different geographic locations.

Russ Carrington, General Manager of the PFLA, who co-hosted the event said that, “The more of these tasting events we do, the more we discover it is soil type and pasture species that affect flavour, and less so the breed of animal.  This is what the French describe as “terroir”.  We feel these differences in taste are something to be really celebrated and can help with people’s enjoyment of lamb”.

Many of the guests at this event have a close working relationship with consumers and all remarked on the changing trends they have seen in recent months, particularly from consumers seeking higher quality and wanting to know more about how the animals were reared.

“Regular discussions in the media about whether to eat meat or not are prompting more and more people to seek out the real facts and look for trusted products with transparent supply chains,” explained Russ.  “Pasture for Life produce fits well with the Eating less but better mantra and outlets selling certified meat are reporting a rise in interest, even from ex-vegans in some cases.”

Connecting supply and demand for a particular product is a challenge and the PFLA is supporting a number of initiatives to help more Pasture for Life produce reach consumers.  Part of the purpose of PFLA tasting events is to inspire more connections and possibilities for this to happen.

On departure one butcher who attended said: “Thank you – I’ve been re-engaged with the quality and taste of lamb, and now want to see how I could source lamb from Pasture for Life farms for my shop.”

Want to do your own tasting event?!  They are great fun and really help get people engaged in the stories behind meat and why Pasture for Life is so special.  Here’s our guide to how to create your own.

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