If you want the finest meat, buy from Britain’s best butchers, says Tom. And these all deliver.
If we can take anything away from these seemingly interminable lockdowns, it’s the importance of British farmers. As well as the brilliance of our finest butchers. While supermarket supplies wobbled, our top-notch native meat merchants held firm. By buying direct, you know exactly where your meat comes from. Mainly native breeds, outdoor-raised to the highest standards of animal welfare, where a happy life means happy eating. Yes, ethically produced meat is more expensive, but seek out the cheaper cuts – slow-cooked beef shin, oxtail, breast of lamb and shoulder of pork, as well as all that lovely offal.
Everyone here delivers nationwide (sadly, no HG Walter, my favourite London butcher). So order direct and support humane, sustainable great British farming.
- Philip Warren (philipwarrenbutchers.co.uk) is a Cornish legend and has been around since 1880. Its ‘On The Pass’ section lets you buy the same special cuts served in some of the country’s best restaurants.
- David Lishman is a master butcher and Lishmans of Ilkley (lishmansbutchers.co.uk) is magnificent. Especially his sausages, pies, home-cured hams, bacon and charcuterie.
- Godfreys (godfreys.co) is a North London institution – a proper old-fashioned butcher that matures its own beef. Great sausages and bacon too.
- Peter Hannan is another meat master, and his salt-aged beef is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. As is his Sugar Pit Bacon Rack. Check out his hampers from The Meat Merchant (themeatmerchant.com).
- The Ethical Butcher (ethicalbutcher.co.uk) takes the provenance of its meat very seriously indeed and lists the farms that supply it. Lots of variety and endless different cuts.
- Farmison (farmison.com) is equally obsessed with provenance and I love its Swaledale mutton, Label Anglais chickens and offal.
- Peter Gott (sillfield.co.uk) has been farming rare-breed pigs, as well as wild boar and Herdwick sheep and lamb, for many years. Another farming hero, and don’t miss his sausages and bacon.
- You can’t go wrong with Turner and George (turnerandgeorge.co.uk) restaurant-quality meat. Check out its rare-breed Black Label collection.
- The Ginger Pig (thegingerpig.co.uk) is ever reliable and I particularly love its pork.
- Pipers Farm (pipersfarm.com) are great farmers, producing really excellent meat.
- For serious chickens, try Herb Fed (herbfedpoultry.co.uk).
Drinks: Olly’s pink fizz for Valentine’s Day
The association of pink fizz with romance is unshakeable. And sparkling rosé is more than just frivolous froth. Even for under £10 I’ve found brilliant bubbly that should be front row in your fridge. Of course, splashing out brings greater complexity and a more contemplative moment. The choice is yours but thankfully, real romance remains blind whether your Valentine’s vino is a bargain or a blowout.
M&S Crémant de Bordeaux Rosé NV (12%), £9, Ocado
Bargain bubbly with delightful depth and long-lasting zip.
La Terrasse Sparkling Rosé (12%), £14, Sainsbury’s
A fruity cascade of strawberries and peaches. Delicious!
Chapel Down English Sparkling Rosé (12%), £26.99, Majestic
Vivacious and scented as a gingery rose – an English ace.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2007 (12.5%), £142, thefinestbubble.com
Bunches of roses and ripe strawberries in fizz form. Sublime.
Wine of the week:
Bird In Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir 2019 (12.5%), £11.99, Waitrose
Fab Aussie fun, this sherbet pink will make your night fizz.