March 22, 2007

La Bazadaise

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As you know, The Camden Park crew are always on the lookout for the best tasting beef. It’s just possible that we might have got somewhere close to that goal.

Yesterday, two good friends came over for lunch, they said they would bring some steaks over for us to cook.

They have just returned from a week in South West France staying near the little town of Bazas. I have to say that the name kind of rang a bell. Of course, it’s the home of the legendary Bazadaise cattle. These fine beasts are strong, stocky animals and were originally bred to pull wagons and ploughs throughout the region.

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The Cathederal at Bazas

In the case of Bazadaise cattle the best meat is from steers which are between 5 and 6 years old. The meat is also air dried for up to 31 days before being ready for sale.

This is such an important factor in giving the meat it’s special texture and flavour that the local council have written it as law into their already onerous “appellation” for Bazas beef.

The meat was juicy, tender and full of flavour and was a perfect match for the crisp chips cooked in goosefat, the Bazas way. The Shiraz-Petit Verdot we drank with it was pretty sharp darts as well.

October 12, 2006

A Rare Breed Indeed

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A magnificent Irish Moiled bull, back from the brink of extinction.

If it wasn’t for the relentless hard work of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and other such groups, many British breeds of cattle would have become extinct across our islands.

This would have lead to an impoverishment of our rich farming history and homogenisation of the cattle industry.

Fortunatley though, cattle such as our rarest breed, the Irish Moiled, (which had virtually died out altogether 20 years ago), is making a healthy comeback.

Check out the website, it makes interesting reading.

October 8, 2006

Introducing Wyndham House

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Very close to the Camden Park office in London we are blessed to have the excellent Wyndham House Butchers.

The really do express the best of the traditional family butcher whilst offering a fine range of more unusual cuts and a range of high quality oils, sauces, pasta and cookery books.

Tony, the master butcher at Wyndham House tells us that they source all their produce from family owned farms. Their chickens are from rare breeds grown in Essex whilst their Lamb comes from Wales and their awesome beef comes from over the border in Scotland. The animals live a long happy life without commercial feeds, antibiotics and hormone growth promoters.

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Go visit them. Their address is:

39. Tatchbrook Street
London
SW1
Tel: 0207-821-6341

They also have a sister shop at:

309. Fulham Road
London
SW10
Tel: 0207-352-7888

And a specialist poultry butchers in London’s famous Borough Market at:

3. Stoney Street
London
SE1
Tel: 0207-407-4388

Hope you enjoy the wine Tony, we’ll be in again soon to hear what you think.

September 30, 2006

Passing The Spit Bucket In Texas Hill Country

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I read this with a tear in my eye the other day.

It’s amazing that every day the fabulous world of wine turns up such gems.

As a good old Brit, my impression of the great Lone Star State, was always one of a vast expanse of scrubby landscape interspersed with cattle ranches and the odd oil well.

I had no idea that it had hidden treasures like the Hill Country around Johnson City. A land where, increasing numbers, of vines grow along side pedigree Longhorn cattle. And, where many local restaurants serve traditional “Texas Barberque” washed down with full bodied, gutsy, red wines from the local area.

Sounds like the good life to me.

September 25, 2006

Find Your Tribe

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We’re told that it has never been easier to fit into society. The barriers have been broken down forever by media and “celebrity royalty”. The unrelenting rise of reality TV means anyone, even a witless moron with Tourette’s Syndrome, can become a household name!

According to sociologists our society is going back to its tribal roots. People are banding together not through social class but through how they fit in with their friends and peers.

There’s even a website, www.findyourtribe.co.uk, that allows you to identify your tribe. It could be one of 23 according to market research company, Voodoo.

Here’s a selection:

Moshers – Metal and rock is your life.
Emo Kids – Those who carry the world on their shoulders.
Chavs – You’re Chav and proud.
Street Rats – You’ll do anything for a quick buck.
MySpacers- Not just a website but a lifestyle.
Blingers – Rappers like Jay-Z are your inspiration

Careful though, this is co-sponsored by Channel 4 and has been set up to analyse the main influences on the youth of today. So, Big Brother, really is watching.

We’d like to nominate a new tribe. The Bull Crew, a hardcore bunch of boys and girls who like healthy, wholesome living, loud music, contact sports and most importantly, share a true spirit of adventure, over a glass or two of wine, of course!

September 18, 2006

Wagyu Beef - Fact or Fiction?

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Quite a bit has been written of late about the fabulous meat from Wagyu Cattle. Some of it centres around its unique taste and all of it talks of the fantastic prices charged for this delicacy. I won't bore you with the details except to say that a whole carcass can cost as much as £10,000! That's about 10x more than that of farm reared beef.

I'm normally a bit of a tart when it comes to new foody things but I can't quite square this one. The price is a deterent for sure, but, I also like to think of my beef having lived a long happy life roaming freely and getting down to lots of sex etc....Not having been massaged, pampered and listening to classical music all in a temperature controlled environment. It just doesn't seem right to me. There's also the wine angle to consider. A great rib eye from an Angus Bull demands a big ballsy Shiraz. Wagyu seems a bit mincing and possibly requires something girly like a pink Prosecco............Yuk, no thank you!

Anyway, I found some great bullshit here which gives a bit more detail:

For several years now Japanese Wagyu meat, also known as 'Kobe'-style beef, has been enjoying increasing popularity.

Experts and gourmets who have recently discovered Wagyu meat consider it to be the most tender, most succulent and tastiest meat in the world.

Wagyu is now finally available in Europe.

There are all kinds of stories about these imperial cattle from Japan that are massaged, fed on beer and then sold at astronomical prices in Tokyo's top restaurants.

These are not just folkloric. The Japanese have devoted extraordinary care and attention to the rearing of this unusual breed of cattle, focusing on the quality rather than the quantity of their beef. The result is the “caviar of beef”.

Wagyu meat has taken the US by storm, with New Yorkers queuing for Wagyu burgers. New York's famous steak-house, Old Homestead in Manhatten now serves Wagyu burgers at a whopping price of $41.

Wagyu meat is striking because of its wonderful marbling which results in a never-before-experienced succulence that sends the taste buds reeling. The fat in the meat has more monounsaturated fats and melts at room temperature which makes Wagyu beef suitable as part of a lower-cholesterol diet.

The high degree of marbling adds an extraordinary depth of flavour which makes Wagyu beef a culinary delicacy.
Wagyu meat is suitable as part of a low-cholesterol diet.

Make of it what you will. We'd love to hear from you one way or the other and I'm sure that we'll return to the subject.

Les Races a Viande

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The French really have got it sorted when it comes to protecting and preserving those things that are dear to them, most of which are things you eat or drink. It doesn't matter whether it's Cheese, Wine, Meat or Vegetables if you can eat it or slosh it down it's worth putting on a preservation order!

Of course, there's more to this than meets the eye. Much of it is about looking after tradition for the next generation, and so on.

We came across this excellent organistion the other day, Les Races de Viande. It's all about the different species of beef cattle raised in France and why each is a vital component of its region of origin. (we'll write more of the specifics in the future).

A selection of special, tradtional recipes accompanys each region.

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They've even managed to link up with the wine marketing committees in each region to allow cross promotion.

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So, the smart guys and girls behind this, The Centre d'Information des Viandes (CIV), have mangaged to purloin lots of EU cash to fund these parochial activities. Just fantastic, hats off to you!

We look forward to commenting more on your activities in the near future. Maybe a French/Aussie collaboration might be on the horizon?

A Substantial Tale

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I was talking to a good friend of mine over the weekend, Joe Wadsack, who happens to be a journalist. He writes about food, wine and other aspects of social culture. Joe reminded me of a story I wrote a while back saying that for him, it was by far the best press release he had ever received and that it should be posted on the Camden Park blog. Here it is:

We like to say that everything about Camden Park is substantial. So big in fact, that you’ll need 2 hands to drink it.

Our inspiration was taken from the uncompromising scientist, Stephen Hawking. In his famous book “A Brief History of Time” published in 1988, he introduces his work with a story which gives an analogy as to the massiveness of the cosmos and it goes like this:

A well known scientist (some say it was Bertram Russell) once gave a public lecture on Astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the centre of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy.

At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a gigantic Turtle.”

The scientist gave a superior smile before replying “What is the Turtle standing on?”.

“You’re a very clever young man, very clever” said the old lady “but it’s Turtles all the way down”.

We like this, it makes sense to us.

Bigness is what Camden Park is all about. There’s no place left for the insubstantial.

From our well hung bull, to the heavy weight bottle, and, of course, the wine itself, Camden Park defines what “Big” is all about.

Thanks for the reminder, Joe.

September 13, 2006

In praise of a Cote de Boeuf and a Fat Lady

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The Glorious Jennifer Patterson

We all have our favourite beef cut, and, mine is consistently the Cote de Boeuf. In English, we call it a beef chop and is simply a single rib cut from the centre of a full rib.

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A Beautiful Chop!

Many consider the rib to provide the most flavourful cut and as a roasting joint it is near perfection. The beef chop though is also fantastic. Brushed with a little olive oil and spinkled with freshly milled black pepper, salt and a few mixed herbs, the chop is then seared on both sides to your liking.

In the immortal words of Fat Lady, Jennifer Patterson, "If you don't like it rare, I frankly wouldn't bother!".

God rest her soul.

Bull of the Month - September 2006

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Texas Longhorn - Storm Warning

In our series which pays hommage to the "alpha males" of their species around the world, we are delighted to share with you the truly magnificent splendour of Texas Longhorn, Storm Warning, from Austen, Texas, the spiritual home of this majestic breed.

A true world champion who has received no less than 20 major awards in his long and illustrious career.