The process of how food gets from the farm to the fork is something more and more people are buying into - both restaurateurs and diners.
It is something very close to the hearts of the team behind the Tap and Kitchen at Oundle, who last week laid on a “feast of pork” to celebrate the contribution of one their suppliers - Nassington-based Kati Dalgleish.
Kati breeds Tamworth pigs on smallholdings at Elton and Tansor and has been providing the restaurant with rare breed free range pork since it opened in November last year.
And if it is traceability you want, you can’t do much better than an invoice bearing the name of the sow and boar from her Pig and Scarf Herd, the date and size of the litter, date of slaughter and weight at slaughter.
“I think traceability is becoming more and more important,” she said. “People are getting into where their meat is from and I am proud of the lengths we go to.”
Kati, a trained chef who has worked at Elton Furze Golf Club and the Crown Inn at Elton, is passionate about the meat supply trade which she only got into last year.
“We (with partner Paul Monks) bought piglet with the intention of taking it through to slaughter and filling our freezer.
“ As it happens we sold it and decided to move things on from there - and we still haven’t managed to get any into the freezer.
“We had done a lot of research - the breed was a very important factor and with Tamworths you bring great taste and flavour to the plate - and that was another reason. We wanted to have a product that was a little bit different.
“The guys at the Tap and Kitchen care about their local produce and it is nice that they get what we do.”
As well as a pen at a farm in Elton the couple took on five acres at nearby Tansor - giving them plenty of room to grow and now have six breeding sows and a boar, as well as chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys.
And it is not just rare breed flavorsome pork, it is as free range, organic and natural as possible, something Kati is really passionate about- and something she insists the abattoir, butchers and restaurants she supplies share.
Thankfully, general manager Dan Coshan and head chef Nigel Fish feels equally as strong about what they put on their customers’ plates - provenance and traceability are at the heart of what they do.
“It is something we feel very strongly about,” said Dan. “ We want to showcase products that we believe in. How it is farmed, where, the processes used by suppliers and what we undertake to get it on the plate - be it a vegetable, piece of fruit or meat.
“And we are very happy to work with Kati - her Pig and Scarf Herd provide amazing pork and a we try to present it in the best format possible.
“When there are going to be only two or three things on a plate it has got to be at its best to please our customers.
“And people are so much more aware - they want to know what it is they are eating, where it is from and how we have cooked it.”
To that end staff receive training and have daily briefings so they can pass that on to customers so they feel comfortable having a sausage roll and a pint in the bar area or a sit down meal in the restaurant.
“We tell them they don’t have to be food experts but do need to understand what we are doing, believe in it and buy into it.”
A Feast of Pork at the Tap and Kitchen, Oundle
First up was a sharing platter with home cured coppa taking centre stage. It was similar to prosciutto, but from a different cut of meat, and very endearing. And perfect with a very dark and sweet bresaola, chorizo, salami, bread and olives.
Next up I quite liked the brawn - not something I have tried previously; but a nice texture and delicate flavour, that went great with toasted bread.
I was blown away however by the faggots - I never knew they could taste this good. Quite rich and gamey in flavour - a feature of the Iron Age pork (A Tamworth bred with a wild boar) we were eating - but so moist and tender, a real melt-in-the-mouth experience not unlike a good terrine, only warm. A soft, creamy lovely celeriac puree was left to play second fiddle.
Porchetta is not something I would normally order, but the taste is something else, not just the meat but the infusion of herbs too, particularly with the jus on top.
The feast was completed with a wonderful chargrilled loin chop I would have happily gnawed down to the bone, served with a black pudding and refreshing pear salad.
Find out more about the Tap and Kitchen at www.tapandkitchen.com and Kati’s Tamworths on twitter @Kati_Tamworths