The time has come to get food sorted for Christmas, the most difficult to find is the correct cut of pork for our Christmas Eve dinner. As some of you know I'm half Norwegian and lived there for a few years, and since we moved back here we've not been able to get the cut of pork right. It's called belly of pork here, in Norway we just call it the rib (flat rib) and no butcher we've seen before has given us the right thing, always masses of actual belly pork and sometimes not even with the bones in (which is quite important!) So this year I made it my mission to find a good butcher....I did Google for a while for good local farm shops and La Hogue Farm Shop & Cafe just outside Newmarket popped up again and again. It was 30 miles away...which may not be super local but I think when you find a good shop it's worth the travel.
I've been pestering the poor people at La Hogue for at least a month which pictures and questions from Norwegian cookbooks to see if they knew what we were looking for. In the end we thought it would be easier if we popped in to speak to the butcher with the book. The most experienced butcher was going to be in today so we thought this would be the day to go.
As soon as the butcher saw the book and heard us say 'rib', he knew straight away we were the crazy women emailing him about the pork, which he found quite hilarious. He was certain he knew exactly what the cut was and that it was common, and to prove this he even made us go in the back...which instantly I knew would be interesting as my mum can't stand seeing big sides of animals hanging in butchers shops! And this is what she had to go and look at bless her! I thought it was great, and he did know exactly what we wanted, there was one already hanging up waiting!
He just slapped it down with love and cut it up and scored it exactly how it needed to be, amazing, and even cut off the excess bits we didn't need. I also have to say he is probably the funniest butcher I've met and probably the nicest - full of banter, he could have easily have sold us the whole shop! We also needed some minced pork for our special Christmas meatballs so he minced us some fresh which was nice. It was also a lot cheaper than when we got it last year from the butcher in our town so that was a big bonus.
Take a moment to the read the signs on the counter...made me smile and shows you just the kind of people they are, love it.
We couldn't then resist a look around the rest of the shop, we're making some hampers as Christmas presents this year so we stocked up on a few items that you can't get in the local shop. There's so much variety, vegetables, cheeses (drool), wines and beers, sweets, cakes...the list just goes on really. A lot of their own items have quirky names too like Rudolph's Relish, Medieval Mustard and Santa's Special Chutney.
I love how everything was displayed so nicely, it did actually feel like a farm shop rather than just a supermarket. Everything was so neat and easily accessible. They even had huge roulades that Mary Berry would be envious of!
They even had a lovely cafe, you really didn't expect it to be big but it was massive when you think about how big a normal cafe is on its own. They stocked an impressive amount of homemade cakes and treats, I had to take a picture because I was so impressed, there's even more about the corner you can't see. My mum had carrot cake (it even had green glitter on!) and I had millionaire shortbread with crazy thick layers :).
I wish we hadn't had a big breakfast as the food looked amazing, it filled up pretty quick and the food was flying out, they're the sort of place that serves proper jacket potatoes...you know what I mean....cooked in the proper oven and super crispy skin.
I also have to mention their Christmas Barn, filled with little gifts and lots of Christmas decorations. They really had a theme going with the 'homemade cottage' style of decorations, lots of gingham and ribbons - my favourite. They're not that expensive either and great to get in the festive spirit with!
I'm so glad we've finally found a lovely farm shop that can keep us in Norwegian Christmas rib every year and any other little treats we fancy getting, I really want to try some of their fruity wines, I'm sure there was a sparkling blackcurrant one that looked really special...so needless to say we will definitely be taking another trip before the year is up. They do have a candlelit Christmas market next weekend but I'm away in Southampton, but if you're in the area I would highly recommend a cheeky trip you won't be disappointed.
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