EATING FOR BRITAIN: A PERFECT CUPPA & THE BEST BACON SANDWICH EVER
My all too short stay in beautiful Dorset ended with a perfect combination of two of my favourite things from two of my favourite producers.
First up, a nice cup of tea. As those of you who follow along with the blog will know, I am slightly obsessive about tea and, although I love the fine teas sold by my friend, Henrietta, of The Rare Tea Company, at heart, the Yorkshire boy in me takes over and craves nothing more than a cup of “builder’s” with just a spot of milk.
Recently, I was lucky enough to meet with the people of Taylor’s Yorkshire Tea, when I spent some time with their sister company, Betty’s of Harrogate. This morning, I was able to visit another of my absolute favourite producers, Clipper Tea who are based in Beaminster.
Clipper has suffered a little in recent years as its message of supplying organic and fair trade teas, grown and purchased in an ethical way resulted in worthy but, quite frankly, rather dowdy packaging which meant they were often lost on the supermarket shelves. A huge shame as Clipper Everyday Tea is one of the very best for a perfect cuppa. I should know, I have drunk enough of the stuff over the years.
Now, however, with a rather fun and bright new packaging design (which will be familiar to anyone who buys Dorset Cereals for Breakfast) they should be able to get their due recognition.
After a brief tour of the small factory, it was time for a tasting and alongside the Every Day Tea, Gill Hesketh, the Marketing Director of Clipper and her colleagues had laid out a range of teas for me to taste, including Earl Grey and some of their organic teas. I am a simple man and, despite recognising the quality of the other blends, it was still the old favourite Everyday Tea, to which I shall return again and again.
After a cup of tea, what else, in Gill’s office, I had to run, or rather drive the short few miles to my next stop, where I was to cross another of my FIFTY DISHES TO FIND MYSELF off the list, Denhay Farm.
Denhay Farm has been in the hands of The Streatfeild family for many years and George, Amanda and their daughter Ellen, are very well known for their excellent West Country Farmhouse Cheddar made only from the milk taken from their own herds.
However, what I had come in search of was not cheese, although I tasted plenty of that and very, very good it was too. No, what I was after came about as a bye product of cheese production when they decided to raise pigs on their large estate and feed them with the whey residue from the process.
From the pigs, of course came bacon, as they say in Trading Places “just like you would find in a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich” duh. But, the Denhay bacon is not just any bacon. First of all, they have a number of different cures and their own dry cure bacon has become so respected that it is now used for Duchy Originals and their Wiltshire cure by Mr Blumenthal at his Little chef makeover in Popham (although George shook his head when I told him how appallingly they had treated it on my visit)
When I arrived at their farmhouse, the unmistakeable smell of frying bacon wafted through the door I was greeted by a large plate featuring four different types with which I was invited to make my own sarnie. So I did and fricking brilliant it was too. In fact, I made more than one, one with brown bread and one with white bread, both smothered in butter and both filled with crisp, crackly bacon that tasted, like well how bacon used to taste. Sensational stuff.
After a lovely lunch, finished, of course with some of their cheddar, I was given a tour of their processing plant where sides of bacon hung, swirling and golden brown after curing and state of the art machines sliced and packed for all of the many supermarkets they supply. It is all impressive stuff, of course, but I couldn’t help thinking about just how good that bacon sandwich really was. Truly one of the top fifty things to eat in the UK.
So good in fact, that I am about to go and make another one now with the bacon I brought home and to drink with it? A nice cup of builder’s tea. What could be better?