Holy mackerel!

Mackerel fillets and rhubarb compote

Tonight I got the chance to pair up mackerel and rhubarb, as I’d planned last weekend when I bought the forced rhubarb. I persuaded a rather skeptical friend to come round to join me for this slightly disconcerting combo. What was the verdict? Read on to find out…

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Meat the mighty Waberthwaite sausage…

Every time I drive to the northern Lakes or Scotland I make it my business to stop off at the wonderful Westmorland services Farm Shop on the M6 at Tebay. This is foodie nirvana, and a shining beacon of inspiration in a landscape of motorway mediocrity. My understanding is that this is the only independent family-owned services on the motorways in the UK: the landowners allowed the M6 to be extended north through their land, but only on the condition of being granted the right to operate services there. Well, good for them… travellers like us get to reap the rewards. I’m constantly reminded of how good this farm shop is: depending on the season you can pick up great veg, superb cheeses, meats, charcuterie, pickles, sauces, pies… I could go on and on.

Something which I grab every time, a true meaty necessity, is a Waberthwaite Cumberland sausage from Richard Goodall. This is the real deal, a proper Lake District classic long sausage; rich and seasoned, and flavoured with a drop or two of the local Jennings Cumberland Ale (which is a reet good accompaniment to this sausage).

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A little slice of Pexommier cheese…

Sometimes the simplest things bring the greatest pleasure. This evening’s meal was based around local food: incredible fresh bread from the Height Top Barn Company, and gloriously melting Pexommier cheese from the Pextenement Cheese Company.

This is the latest offering from this local start-up producer, coming hot on the heels of their wonderfully fresh East Lee soft cheeses. Having sat at room temperature for some days, this cheese was just starting to ooze runnily when I cut it open: the mild aroma did little to alert me to the fantastically rich, smooth taste and texture. One might lazily start by comparing it to a good cambembert, though without the slightly ammonia-esque tang you might expect of that more matured cheese. However that comparison doesn’t aid in highlighting the slight sweetness of the cheese, the oh-so-soft skin and the harmonious pairing with some really good bread and local butter. All washed down with a great beer (in this case a Trippel from Chimay… the one with the white label).

Pextenement recommend aging it for four weeks after purchase… I managed ten days before the temptation became too much to bear. My excuse? Well, I’d not had it before and my anticipation was heightened after spending some time with the producers in my local the previous evening. Oh, and it was the perfect quick meal solution after a long day in the office. Sometimes the best fast food is really just slow food in disguise…