Places to eat: Pork & Co, Canterbury

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I’ve always been a lover of food whether that’s tenderly cooked fillet of grass fed beef or a packet of ramen noodles (I know, classy right?!) and pulled pork is a solid favourite for me.

Over the past couple of years pulled pork has become the king of the fashionable food pack and it’s been swiftly included on nearly every menu in most kinds of restaurants.

Now as I mentioned above I love a bit of pulled pork, so you can imagine my excitement when I heard back in April 2014 that Sam Deeson (the guy behind one of my favourite and most visited Canterbury eateries a few doors down, Deesons) had opened a shop dedicated and committed solely to pork.

Inspired by hog roasts at food festivals, but done properly with all the trimmings; hand crafted buns for example, rather than the usual supermarket offerings. The shop itself has been lovingly crafted without a detail missed to fit the simple yet genius ethos of British, local pork in a bun, no messing, just really good food, served fresh.

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All of the pigs used at Pork & Co are British, free range happy pigs, with the buns homemade and most of the ingredients for the sides coming from The Bunker, Deeson’s & Pork & Co.’s smallholding. Not surprisingly, the shop gets through an entire pig every day!

There are always a few hungry faces hanging around the door to the shop and trust me that pork does not disappoint. It all just tastes SO good. They’ve really hit the nail on the head with this little gem. It really is the finest pork you ever did have!

P.s. They’ve also just opened up Little Joe’s Deli up by the cathedral that I’m desperate to try. If it’s anything like Pork & Co or Deesons I’m certain it’ll be a huge hit!

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Eat the seasons: Lamb

 

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Lamb from New Zealand is be available all year round and tends to do the trick when you fancy a traditional Sunday roast, but in season British lamb is hard to beat.

In May and June lamb is really at its most tender but September lamb is in a whole league of it’s own. A summer spent in the sunshine, chowing down on fresh green grass, its flavour develops tremendously and is arguably the best lamb of the year.

Recently my butcher was offering a half September lamb for £48, an offer I could not refuse. It weighed 10 kilos when it was delivered and that works out at just under £5 a kilo, much cheaper than anything you can find on the supermarket shelves! If you’ve got a big enough freezer I would definitely recommend the investment. I’ve never had such tender and flavourful lamb, a far cry from some supermarket offerings!

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As you may have guessed lamb is my favourite of all red meats. Simple, versatile and full of flavour.  It has so many different cuts which you can use with lots of different flavours in a range of dishes.

It’s the meat of a sheep under a year old (hogget is an animal aged one to two years old, and mutton anything older) and there are not many variations to it. Lamb is hung for a standard time and its breed does not mean as much as it does with, say, beef or pork. But the range of delicious things that can be done with lamb have always made it both a family and a chef’s favourite.

It may come as a surprise to some but lamb tends to be far healthier than its other red meat counterparts. Raised for most of their lives in fields, it has fewer unhealthy fats and higher levels of omega 3 oils and minerals. This is because cows and pigs tend to be fed soya based, imported feeds and grass fed cattle are far rarer. Although it is worth mentioning that it does have a higher fat content, than other red meats, but a discussion on the healthiness of fats is one for another post.

I really would recommend considering buying your lamb from your local butcher, it’s so worth it. For flavour, price and health. If your lucky your butcher might be kind enough to chuck in a few extras to make some lovely rich stock or bone broth which will work wonders in the coming winter months!

 

Organic food: pricey but worth it?

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One of the questions I hear a lot is about organic food and whether it’s worth it? It’s a really interesting question and one that I have often wondered myself. Growing up, my parents were really into growing their own veg and buying organic but when I went to university I really noticed the price tag. I began to think that organic was a waste of money, there just to rinse the pockets of those silly enough to buy it.

When the price of food is on the rise it’s so easy to just go for the cheapest option but over the years I’ve come to realise that there are some things that really are worth spending that little bit more on. In an ideal world we would all eat organic, homegrown, free range food with no air miles and bought from the farm shop next door. But that’s just not possible and everybody’s food budgets are different. That’s why I’ve put together a list of the foods that are worth buying organic:

1. Milk – organic whole and semi-skimmed milk has more beneficial omega-3 fatty acid, Vitamin E and beta-carotene than non-organic milk, and studies have found that organic milk has 68 per cent higher levels of the essential fatty acid than non-organic. 

2. Bread – This everyday favourite has a really surprising number of pesticides, which have been used on the wheat grains, so choosing organic flour or bread helps to reduce your exposure to pesticides. 

3. Tomatoes – Tomatoes have very delicate skins that pesticides can easily get through. These chemicals cannot be washed off and removing the skin will not help as the chemicals have seeped through.This includes all fruit and veg with thin skins so things like berries, cucumbers, spinach, celery, carrots etc. are worth getting organic too.

4. Eggs – Eggs are an easy place to start going organic. Organic means free-range too, so those chickens enjoy a much happier life outside, producing rich, delicious eggs. 

5. Leafy Greens – These tend to have a large surface area for their size so can absorb lots of chemicals. 

6. Chicken – Organic standards insist that animals are given plenty of space and fresh air so they can grow more naturally, with a truly free-range life. They also forbid they use of antibiotics.

7. Soft fruit – Fruit with soft skins such as peaches and nectarines, tend to absorb more chemicals. Generally the skins of these fruit are often eaten, despite the surface having been treated with pesticides. 

10. Oranges – Organic oranges are one of the best organic foods to buy, with a study by PAN UK finding that 97 per cent of oranges tested had pesticide residues in them.

Now this can all sound a bit intimidating but there are foods around that are much safer to eat when it comes to pesticides. This list includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, frozen peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, aubergine, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. They tend to absorb much less pesticide so you can be more relaxed when it comes to buying the non-organic versions of these ingredients.

It can be a bit overwhelming if you decide to change your weekly food shop to all organic products. But I hope these two lists make it a bit easier to decided what is worth buying organic and what to not be so worried about. You can be kind to your body and your wallet!

I must just mention that although eating organic is great, it’s much more important to eat lots of fresh veggies and we can only do the best with what we’ve got. So eat organic where you can but in the end just aim to eat as wide a variety of fresh ingredients as you can to give your body the goodness it really needs!

P.s To keep up to date with what foods you should be eating organic look up ‘Dirty Dozen’ organic, they update their list yearly.

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