As I opened my eyes and rolled over in bed, I knew it was too soon to get up. My brain felt like it had been soaked in a bath of red wine, jingled around whilst playing a ridiculous game of ping pong and then tackled by a team of rugby players. Which is pretty much what had happened the previous night. And now my hangover was doing a pretty good job of trying to ruin my Sunday, alas, I know the drill. Go back to sleep for at least two hours, eat a pie with ketchup, drink a big coffee, have a shower and put your face on and then…shake it off.
My idea of shaking off a hangover is to indulge in yet more food and more wine at my favourite Sunday lunch spot. Mr T and I have spent the last few Sundays going out to the McHenry Farm Shop to indulge in delicious little lunches. However, yesterday was not a little lunch. We invited some great friends along to lunch and the sun was obediently shining so the day was looking promising at last. My stoic friends kicked off with a wine tasting, I was not yet ready to taste the naughty nectar, not for at least five more minutes anyway. So, we settled into our sunny spot on the patio with a bottle of Rocky Road Chardonnay and some charcuterie. We ordered a pork, pistachio and cranberry terrine which I have eaten there many times and always enjoy. Especially the wonderful little pickles which accompany the charcuterie, deliciously spiced little carrot batons are a treat in their own right. Trying to encourage certain members of our group to indulge in ‘Pig in a box’ was a challenge. ‘Pig in a box’ was a terrine made from the pig’s head and it was very flavoursome meat with the perfect amount of seasoning and spice. We polished off a cheeky bowl of duck fat potatoes just to get us in the mood for the main course.
Everyone else was very restrained with their ordering and opted for soups and salads but I went the whole hog (bad and inaccurate pun) and ordered the lamb rump with duck fat potatoes (yes more duck fat), wilted spinach and celeriac puree. And my was I glad that I did. Forgive me; I am about to indulge in a rant about just how much flavour their ethically farmed meat has… As one of my friends very aptly stated “it tastes really lamby”. Which in my mind, sums up what this kind of farming is all about. The animals are happy, happy animals are tasty animals and eating them makes me a happy animal. Surely, this is the perfect circle of life!
It tastes how meat used to taste and how it should taste, it reminds me of going to the village butcher with my Mummy when I was a little girl. There was a little butcher shop in the middle of the village, right next to the river Churn or the Brook as we used to call it. Mummy and I would walk down there together to buy the meat, have a good gossip with Ken and I would count the eggs. I have realised as I have grown up that counting the eggs served no purpose other than to entertain me whilst the butcher Ken and Mummy had a chat. Handling eggs as a small child is a fragile business so my full attention was needed. Unlike these days, all the meat would be hanging up in the back of the shop and his knives and saws and mallets all dangled from hooks. You would select your meat, he would grab a great beast from one of his hooks and proceed to masterfully chop it and slice it or dice it and generally provide great theatre as well as great meat. This is how McHenry farm shop makes me feel, it makes me nostalgic and somehow makes me feel involved, as if by them sharing the story behind the meat, I am somehow a part of the process.
Rant over, back to the lamb. It was tasty and skillfully cooked and exactly what my hangover needed. Eating it with my favourite Zinfandel was slowly bringing me back to life. Luckily there was still a tiny pocket of space for some of the delightful lemon delicious slice which I have to order every time I go there. I had forewarned my friends that I would not be sharing this dessert but their sad little faces were longing for a bite and so I had to share with all and there was virtually none left for me. And so I had to order another slice… What a way to spend a Sunday. Great friends, great, honest food and wine and the sun shining.
For those of you who haven’t made it to the McHenry farm shop yet, you should go there, immediately. And for those of you who live on the other side of the world, find a place with similar integrity in your neighbourhood. Trust me, food with integrity just tastes better!