Lancashire food blogger Andrew Stevenson joined us at The Sparrowhawk in Fence for last week’s Taste Lancashire Produce Evening.
Here’s what he thought...
This was the last in the current series of Taste Lancashire evenings, where Lancashire restaurants have been teamed up with a local producer to showcase both the restaurant and the producer. On this occasion the restaurant was the Sparrowhawk in Fence, and the producer was Leagram Organic Dairy of Chipping.
The Sparrowhawk had run a competition among the kitchen to design a menu for tonight, and the winner was eighteen-year old Junior Chef de Partie, Luke Payne, who became head chef for the evening to deliver his menu. There's no denying it was a very creditable performance on the night: congratulations to him and the management of the Sparrowhawk for giving him this opportunity.
Rag pudding is asteamed suet pudding, not unlike spotted dick, often traditionally cooked in a shirt sleeve, and served in either sweet, or (as here) savoury forms. Unfortunately, it was a steamy hot evening and nobody on my table had the rag pudding. On reflection, my gastronomic curiosity should have won the day, rather than the "safe" lamb option, as I suspect it probably wouldn't have been as heavy and hearty a dish as it sounded on first reading the menu.
Before dessert, platters of various Leagram cheeses were brought round for tasting.
Leagram Organic Dairy is based in the pretty Ribble Valley village of Chipping, one of the
newest producers of Lancashire cheese. Leagram are well known both locally and further afield, not just for their cheese, but also for Bob Kitching's cheese making demonstrations and his cheesy waistcoats and ties.
Bob runs the dairy along with his daughter Faye, and it was Faye who joined us at the Sparrowhawk to talk about the dairy and its products.
Leagram currently make some twenty eight varieties of cheese. They produce a wide range of what I call cheese with bits in, but also make the usual range of creamy, crumbly and tasty traditional Lancashire cheeses. I had always thought these were essentially the same cheese at different stages of development, but apparently that's wrong, and the cultures used are slightly different for the three styles.
My favourite of the traditional Lancashires (though sold in a less than traditional cone shape) is the 2 year-old tasty, sold under the name "Bob's Knobs". There is an excellent blue cheese, made in quite a creamy, Italianate style. But, besides the traditional Lancashires, my favourite of all the Leagram's cheeses are the really fresh one-day old curd cheeses (the Ramshackle sheep's milk version was here for tasting), which are pretty unique. As well as on their own, with fruit and/or honey, or grilled on a crumpet, or even bruléed as a dessert, they make a superb British replacement for the queso fresco used in many Mexican dishes. Well worth seeking out.
this on its main menu as soon as possible.
Thanks to Andrew for joining us, and for a great write up. You can read his personal blog here.
Taste Lancashire Produce Evenings will be back in the autumn.