Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Alburgh Lamb - Creake Abbey Farmers Market - Lamb & Mint Sausage

Sadly we have almost arrived at the end of our series of reviews of the sausages we harvested from Creake Abbey Farmers Market. The penultimate banger in the spotlight is a new experience here at RMS - a sausage made with lamb. To be precise, the Lamb & Mint Sausage produced by Alburgh Lamb.

We tried to find some web presence for Alburgh Lamb but couldn't, really. There is, however, a wealth of mentions and reviews of their produce, all featuring namechecks of the main man - Jimmy Denny. Briefly, Jimmy breeds mainly Texel Sheep and they are fed on a waste product from the nearby Grain Brewery - the leftover barley mash. But you can read more about it on the fascinating Mrs Portly's Kitchen blog, which if you click the link will probably have you reading for waaay longer than you intend to visit. But do NOT go there and forget to come back here! That's an order.

Where To Find Them:
We bought our Alburgh Lamb sausages at Creake Abbey Farmers Market , although they do sell at several others in East Anglia. Again, it's tough to find much online which is a shame. Maybe Jimmy prefers it this way so that he can match his supply to the demand better?

Absolutely zero Stans on show. Mister Denny however was as beamingly cheerful as in every photo that you can find of him.

The first two words in our notes for this review are "Absolutely delicious". Not a bad start. The flavour is unmistakeably lamb with mint - that sounds incredibly obvious but we hadn't tried a lamb sausage before and didn't know what to expect. The lamb treats your tastebuds to a sweet, light and slightly fatty flavour, perfect! And then the mint coughs politely in the background - "Ahem" - and suddenly there's your Sunday roast leg of lamb with mint sauce in your mouth in the shape of a sausage. How cool is that! 

Firm but break-up-able. The squidge test (see Silver Spoon Cafe report) was applied and the sausage filling resisted attempts to splosh the fork through it admirably. Large chunks of resolutely lovely lamb confirm these as super sausages. We will have to try to find more lamb bangers (which has a completely different meaning in Wales) as soon as possible.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 87 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 70 grams
Meat Content = Dunno % OK I ballsed up again and don't know the figure, sorry....

Value For Money:
£4.36 for 6 sausages weighing 522 grams. This works out as £8.35 per kg and 73p per banger.

We rate this as marvellous value for money.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
Oh no mate, not this time. Do you really think any of these beauties survived the night? It seems the fridge-dwelling sausage pixies stole them all.

And Finally, Esther:
Jimmy Denny proudly boasts about his daughter "Our beautiful Rachael brought up on Alburgh Lamb!!" Can't give a better recommendation than that.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Fen Farm Venison - Creake Abbey Farmers Market - Venison & Pork Sausage

I first found Fen Farm Venison at Docking Market, all the way back in September 2012. The stall was inviting on a drizzly day and there was a sizzling sound combined with yummy aroma in the air as they grilled some sample sausages for shoppers to taste. You'll receive a warm welcome and be able to take home some very high provenance and healthy venison products.

The proprietors tell us that venison "is one of the healthiest red meats available, having only 207 calories per 100gms. Not only is it low in fat, but it is very low in cholesterol, high in iron and high in protein. Therefore, it is excellent for low-fat diets, medical or otherwise, and in the case of some of our customers, the only red meat they eat." All of which sounds rather good.

Where To Find Them:
Fen Farm Venison's natural habitat is the farmers market, and they are present at lots of these in the East Midlands/Lincolnshire/Norfolk area. You can find the full schedule on the "Markets" page of their informative website - Fen Farm Venison  Or if you prefer, you can have these high quality meat products delivered to your door - see the "Ordering" page for the full details. However you decide to get hold of their produce, hurry to the current website as there's a newer, shinier version on the way....

We spotted our first ever Junior Stan! Check the picture of the stall and you can see the smart turnout of the staff, bravo!

RICH! Gamey and intense meaty flavour with just a hint of pine forest. Venison is a powerful flavour and not to everybody's liking, but if you love a tasty sausage you'll really enjoy a venison banger. There's a peppery after-taste which compliments the meaty maelstrom that goes before. OMB (Oh My Bambi), these sausages seem to be made up of 137% meat. Don't mess with them.

Solid scaffolding poles of meat, but somehow super-juicy at the same time. These looked kind of aggressive in the frying pan and on the plate. Brooding looks and gnarly texture is a macho combination. These really are a carnivore's dream. Solidly chunky filling that is actually chopped quite fine but sticks together tightly like neutrinos subjected to a weak nuclear force. True dat.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 78 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 72 grams

Meat Content = 80% venison combined with 19% pork

Value For Money:
£3.02 for 4 sausages weighing 310 grams. This works out as £9.74 per kg and 75p per banger. These are high quality bangers and so we rate this as very good value for money.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
There were two of these venison & pork sausages lurking, snarling and muttering expletives in the fridge the next morning. After putting on some meat-proof body armour I plucked up courage to tackle them - a cold sausage sandwich made with the cheapest, whitest bread that money can buy. It was a meal in itself! The red sauce half was yummy but the brown sauce half was "off the chuffing scale". The sausages bond together even more fiercely in the fridge and this means that a simple sausage buttie will take you quite a while to tackle. Delicious!

And Finally, Esther:
I bloody loved these man-sized, manly bangers. The full-on flavour may be a little too powerful for some palates but if you're a sausage fan (and if you're not, why are you on this website?) don't just take my word for it - I thoroughly recommend trying out some of Fen Farm Venison's delicious produce for yourself.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

King's Lynn's Best Cafe Sausage 2015 - Part 3 of 10 - Silver Spoon Cafe

The first time we ran this competition the Silver Spoon Cafe finished dead last, by some margin. As you can read, HERE. But things can always improve, so four years on we're back for more.

We went for Medium Breakfasts as per the rules this year, and found that there are four different combinations of ingredients to pick from. I chose the B.C version which includes egg, 2 bacon, sausage, fried slice and beans, whereas Junior Sidekick opted for the B.A and its egg, 2 bacon, sausage, beans and chips. There was quite a difference between the two. And drinks are not included.

Sausage: score 0.75. 
I won't beat about the bush - sad to report that the "sausages" (inverted commas are Very well deserved) served at Silver Spoon cafe are the worst I have ever encountered in any food outlet. Ever. Anywhere. The sausage looks like plastic when it arrives in front of you, the waxy skin has the look of a barrier made out of Joan Rivers' face,  to either stop you getting inside, or more likely to stop the disgusting plop inside getting out. There is little or no discernible pork content and the texture.....well, what texture? We sliced one lengthways and pushed a fork down onto the filling. Disgustingly, the amount of force needed to squish through the filling was negligible, and the gooey mess squirted up through the tines like a watery, porky (?) version of the famous Old Faithful geyser. Truly horrendous.

Rest Of Meal: score 2.75. 
Have a look at the top photo on this report, then at the bottom one. The top pic shows this year's breakfast, the bottom pic is the 2011 version. I'm sorry to state that this year's looks equally unappealling as the previous visit's. What do you think? Very poor presentation. My B.C breakfast was very disappointing, the bacon was scraggy and salty, the egg (just as in 2011) looked....unappetising. JS commented "How do they make egg taste not like egg?" And the sausage.....Junior Sidekick's B.A meal both looked and tasted better with a hefty mound of factory-produced chips dominating the plate, but again including the over-salty bacon, bloody awful banger, and bizarre egg. Unfortunately JS found several blue threads in his food, not hairs but some other alien presence. I checked out the cooks and none of them were wearing anything blue or fluffy, so this contamination must come from some other source. Not acceptable.

Service & Cleanliness: score 4.0. 
Now, here's where the Silver Spoon made up some lost ground. The place is clean, bright and very friendly. The exclusively female servers are cheery, fast and efficient, and smartly presented. Good work! The cafe has a range of tables to accommodate varied-size parties from one to eight diners. The decor though - JS commented "Like an eighty-year-old's living room". Bizarre 3D animal pictures poke out of the walls in between plastic models of various kinds of dog. Crisp, clean and maybe a local theme would be so much better.

 Our meals averaged £5.50, which means that the score for Price is 2.49.

Scores On The Doors (after 3 rounds, click the cafe name to read their report):

P1 Pedlars Hall Cafe       13.19 
P2 Archers Cafe               12.25
P3 Silver Spoon Cafe               9.99

It's appropriate that Silver Spoon scored Nine Nine Nine, as their sausages are absolutely criminal.

Scoring & Rules:
Points will be awarded in four categories; Sausage, Service & Cleanliness, Rest Of Meal and Price. The first three will be scored secretly out of 5 by the two of us and the scores averaged. For Price we are again using the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast (£7.99) as the benchmark, subtracting each cafe's price from this, and the resultant figure is their score (minimum score is zero). Simples!

Next target: 
That would be telling! But if you run a King's Lynn cafe, and find a tip of £1.23, we've already come and gone....

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ian Wright - Creake Abbey Farmers Market - Norfolk Pork Sausage

I bet you didn't know that Ian Wright's sausages have graced these porky pages once before? Way back in March 2012 they were the subject of a guest review written for us by author and sitcom genius Alex Marsh . Here's what he had to say - Jonny B's Review - a positive write-up on the whole.

Now it's time for us to run the RMS rule over Mister Wright's Norfolk Pork sausages, having found them at Creake Abbey Farmers Market, just as Jonny B described. Ian Wright is a lovely chap, gentle in nature, helpful and a pleasure to buy bangers from. Let the rating begin!

Where To Find Them:
Creake Abbey Farmers Market (satnav NR21 9LF). I don't know if they are available elsewhere.  But please do pop along, as well as Ian Wright's you'll be spoiled for choice for good produce.

Mildly salty, but a warm taste of home and childhood. There is more of the salt than pepper, it works quite nicely. Mellow, melting, inoffensive and.....nice.

The skins are great, nice work Ian. The texture is quite even throughout, mid-size pieces. When you push this sausage apart you get lots of nice crumbly crumbs. Overall it's slightly disappointing, very uniform all the way through, every slice pretty much identical. Not terrible, far from it, but not mind-blowing either. Just.....nice.

Junior Sidekick's Three Word Verdict:
Not very chewy.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 57 grams
Average Weight Cooked = 50 grams
Meat Content = Don't Know - sorry, my bad, won't do it again, etc....

Value For Money:
£3.37 for 6 sausages weighing 341 grams. This works out as £9.88 per kg and 56p per banger.

We rate this as good value for money.

The Imaginatively Titled Next Day Cold Sausage Test:
There were none of these sausages left to test out in the morning. We "will" re-start this part of the reviews soon, promise.

And Finally, Esther:

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Creake Abbey - North Creake - Pork, Leek & Bacon Sausage

As part of our comeback series of reviews, looking at sausages harvested from Creake Abbey Farmers Market, this week we may be in for a real treat. The sausages are none other than those from Creake Abbey's own Food Hall, produced by an uproariously talented young butcher by the name of Lisa Scothern. It should be no surprise that Lisa's charcuterie skills are so fabulous, as she learned her killer meaty moves from master butchers Ray Smith (River Cottage) and Matt Cockin (Fruitpig Company). OK, not everyone who has ever shaken hands wih David Beckham can bend it like Goldenballs, but Lisa has learned from these Professors of Pork and has the piece of paper to prove it.

When I say "piece of paper" I mean "Degree in Artisan Food Production". This was gained at the School Of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire, with a major in butchery/charcuterie. This is obviously a very broad subject, as students not only learn how to butcher and process meats, but also "what a fluffer is". Now, unless there's a butcher-specific definition of fluffer, this does seem slightly off-topic? Nevertheless Lisa learned well and set up her own business, "Sherwood Charcuterie". In her own words, "....set up my own business in 2013. My focus was initially on producing great bangers and burgers and cooking at events. I also had a small range of air dried produce. I relocated lock, stock and barrel as I fell in  love with the giant that manages Creake Abbey (all Matt Cockin's fault!!) and we all live happily ever after........My plan is to re-establish a business in wholesaling salami and salumi, once I find a suitable premises locally, whilst keeping a hand in as butcher at Creake Abbey."

Where To Find Them:
The home of this sausage is the food hall at the delightful Creake Abbey Cafe and Food Hall. If you're using your Satnav then type in NR21 9LF. Alternatively find the sausages at Drove Orchards Farm Shop in the gorgeous north Norfolk village of Thornham (PE36 6LS). While you're there head down the lane towards the sea and you may find Junior Sidekick and me crabbing off Thornham sluice gate! Idyllic.

Deep, dark, almost smoky - that was what I wrote in my notes, and before I knew that the bacon included is home-smoked. This is a splendid banger indeed. Just as we like it, each mouthful is a little different which is great to taste and also proof that there is no Mega-Banger X5000 machine pumping these out at a vast rate of knots. The tasty products here are obviously, and superbly, made by hand. You can almost see the thumbprints. Leek or bacon sometimes take centre stage which I particularly admire, and there was the occasional squeak when biting into a larger chunk of the leek. Totally and overwhelmingly delicious.

Very coarse and very rough cut. Exactly the way we likes 'em. These sausages are tough to push apart and when you do finally manage it there are large lumps of loveliness tumbling around your plate. Bloody fantastic work. Substantial and  huge lumps of the top-rated Blythburgh pork, big bits of bacon, and what appears to be half a leek here and there - this is Rate My Sausage perfection. Before our recent break from reviewing it became obvious to me that pork and leek was my favourite type of sausage - Oh Emm Jee these bangers have raised the bar, and the enjoyment of eating, to another level. Natural casings are the perfect finishing touch to one of the greatest sausages I've ever had the pleasure of eating.

Vital Statistics:
Average Weight Uncooked = 105 grams (MONSTROUSLY HUGE)
Average Weight Cooked = 92 grams
Meat Content = 75 % pork, and 16% bacon, smoked in Creake Abbey's very own smokehouse. 

Amazingly we were provided with the full list of ingredients, which is a first as butchers are invariably secretive about there bangers. But we're keeping them a secret.

Value For Money:
£6.28 for 6 sausages weighing 631 grams. This works out as £9.95 per kg and 104p per banger.

We rate this as absolutely bloody marvellous value for money.

The Fruitpig Factor:
Lisa Scothern of Creake Abbey and Matt Cockin of the Fruitpig Company are, at the same time, the best of friends and the keenest of rivals. Indeed, Matt is credited (see above) for starting the avalanche of amour that will end in Lisa's forthcoming nuptials, and I have it on 100% good authority that he will be the chief bridesmaid at said wedding. It won't be his first time....

Take It Further:
Right, you have just read this review. And it's feckin' awesome. You want to make your own sausages just like these. Well....maybe you can....

Lisa Scothern is a tutor at the superb Cannon & Cannon's Meat School. Located in Borough Market, London, this place is a meat-lovers nirvana. Check the link, and if it tickles your fancy, treat yourself to an inside track to pork (and more) perfection. You will NOT regret it!

And Finally, Esther:
A Mary Poppins of a sausage - practically perfect in every way.