A few weeks back I was invited to visit Jimmy's Farm with a select group of other Food Bloggers here in the UK. This was to be a special event designed to Promote the One Pig Weekend, which is happening on the 30th and 31st of July. The One Pig Weekend has been created to inspire people to dedicate one weekend in the year to buying and cooking British Pork, and why not turn it into a party at the same time!
Anyhoo . . . what better way to kick it all off than by treating some of us dedicated foodies to a special day at Jimmy's!! When I was first invited I almost decided not to go as with my knees being the way they are, I was not sure I would be able to cope with the long trip down to Ipswich from Chester and then to spend a day walking about. Thankfully my good friend Julie offered to go with me and Chris was more than happy to have her join in, so all was well!
It was a fabulous time. Everything, including the trip down and the whole day ran smoothly like clockwork. Our every need was attended to. Julie and I had a very comfortable trip down on the train the day before, Sunday . . . a comfortable evening in a great hotel the night before (where we talked each other silly until the wee hours of the morning about everything under the sun . . . but mostly food . . . you know how it goes!) . . . a lovely cooked breakfast when we got up in the morning and then a comfortable ride out to Jimmy's Farm.
We could not have been given a warmer welcome or had a finer day for traipsing around a farm! The sun was shining. The air was sweet with the smell of summer blossom . . . the sounds of twittering of birds . . . I was quite surprised actually. I had expected a pig farm to . . . well . . . PONG big time! But it quite simply didn't. Seriously.
We could not have had a nicer host than Jimmy. I know that it was an event, but you just can't fake sincerity and I was impressed with his warmth and affability. This is a really nice guy! He was genuinely pleased to be showing us around the farm, and his love and passion for what he does was very apparent in every step. This is a man who loves his animals and cares a great deal for their welfare, even if they are going to end up on someone's plate. Animal Husbandry is clearly very important to him and it showed. He was informative, genuine and very down to earth.
The pigs ( fabulous rare breed Essex, Saddleback and Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs) were in small groups, scattered all over the farm, free to do what pigs do best, wallow in the mud, snuffle up goodies with their snouts . . . walk about in grass and dirt and flower, free to be, well . . . pigs.
This particular one was my favourite. Just look at that face!! I am a firm believer in "happy" meat. I think it tastes better, I truly do.
We really had a wonderful time walking around in the sunshine, seeing where the animals live . . . learning all sorts of interesting facts and folklore about pigs. For instance, did you know that Old Spot pigs are said to have developed their spots because they were traditionally held in Apple Orchards and the spots were said to have been developed by falling apples!
We got to walk through his Butterfly House . . . hot and humid but fascinating. There is a great lack of butterflies in the wild today, due to climate change, the spraying of pesticides, encroaching habitation of their habitats by mankind, etc. We just don't see them like we used to and it was wonderful to be inside where they were flying about in abundance, so very pretty!
There were chickens, beautiful chickens! (I love chickens!)
Sheep and ferrets and guinea pigs. All sorts to entertain a family. I could see where it would be a wonderful place to bring your children on a sunny Saturday.
After our tour of the farm we were treated to a special Butchering class given by Joe Collier from the famous Berkhamsted butchers, Eastwoods. Joe took us through the butchering of a whole side of pork whilst Jimmy explained all the cuts and what we could do with them. I found it very informative and could not wait to get home and put some of it into action! Especially interesting was all the information we were given regarding the "lesser" cut of pork, or cheaper cuts. I have always found that these are the tastiest bits!
After the Butchery Class, we were treated to a lovely lunch in Jimmy's Restaurant.
Tasty snacks of Pork Scratchings and slices of a variety of Jimmy's sausages (all delish!) kept the hunger at bay whilst we waited for our lunches to arrive, which interestingly enough was all the same! Go figure. Given our choice of anything on the menu, we all had opted for the Tasty Pork Burger with onion relish and wedge potatoes, fried in pork fat. Oh sooooooo scrummy yummy!! Normally the Toddster trys to discourage me from taking pictures of my food in restaurants . . . but I quite happily clicked away with abandon along with everyone else!
Jimmy was kind enough to sign copies of his books for us and then sit with us afterwards whilst this very busy man had some lunch of his own.
Julie and I both came away from this day with a much better idea of what British Pork is all about and really enthused about this whole Put Pork on Your Fork Campaign! I, for one will be planning something special on the day, and I know Julie is as well. I'm not quite sure just what yet, but I have my thinking cap on. Do make sure to check out the Put Pork on Your Fork page online, and also sign up for their Facebook Page! You can also keep up to date on their Twitter Channel ( @onepigweekend).
All in all this was a fabulous experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. I am so glad that I was able to put my mobility fears behind me and very grateful for Julie's having gone along with me. We got to meet some really nice bloggers, had a really unique and wonderfully informative tour from Jimmy, learned a lot about pork through the Butchery Class, ate some beautiful Pork Burgers, and came away with some lovely pork cuts to take home and cook ourselves, a nice cookbook and having had a truly worthwhile experience. It's not really about all of that though . . . it's about supporting our British Pork Farmers and speaking up for responsible and ethical farming practices by putting our food pounds where our mouth is!
Many thanks to Chris and his crew for helping everything to run so smoothly and affording us the opportunity to particpate in this fab event, also to Jimmy for being such a gracious and warm host, to Joe for sharing his expert butchery skills with us, to the staff in Jimmy's restaurant for treating us so well and serving us so efficiently!
(Chris and Julie. I know!! I didn't end up with one snap of her with her eyes open! Wot is she like!!)
In short . . . thanks all for a fabulous couple of days! (Oh and thanks Julie for being so kind as to come along with me!)
Tune in tomorrow to see what I managed to cook up with my lovely piece of pork!