Llyr a Dai Womble

As some of you know, I worked for over eight years in the film and television industry before pursuing a career as a charcutier. Although I’ve been interviewed many times on television for various film projects that I’ve worked on, this will be my debut as ‘the talent’! This Wedneday, 21st of November at 9pm, Llyr a Dai Womble will be on S4C (Sky Ch134, Freesat Ch120 and online), and for those not versed in the language of heaven, there’s always the option of subtitles.

Earlier in the year, a group of film makers from the television production company Boomerang started a documentary about my little company – Charcutier Ltd. They’ve followed my product development at Food Centre Wales, the tribulations of salami production and the growth and production of our ‘womble pigs’. It’s been an incredible experience, and I’m grateful to have been able to participate in this kind of project.

If I ever do a radio or television interview I rarely listen or watch the item, I always have that thought – is that what I actually sound like? It doesn’t sound like that in my head! So, thankfully, this Wednesday I’ll be driving home from the pop-up market at Chapter Arts Centre while the program is being televised. I’m sure it’ll be recorded for me, and at some point I’ll be sat there watching through my fingers like a scared child watching the Daleks from Doctor Who.

Pigs, pigs, glorious pigs.

Two blog posts in three days, I feel as if I’m spamming! However, I thought I better mention that we have some new arrivals. This morning three Pedigree Berkshire gilts came to Felin y Glyn. We’ve never reared Berkshire’s before, so it’s a bit of a new one for us. So, why Berkshire? Well, during our HCC Scholarship tour last year, it seemed that everyone we spoke to in Vancouver swore by them. We found Berkshire meat products everywhere, from high end restaurants to street corner food vendors. In Japan they’re known as Kurobuta and are highly sought after for their marbled meat. So, we thought we’d give them a go – ones destined for our own bellies, the other two for bacon and charcuterie products.

Earlier in the year while scrabbling to find local producers to supply animals I came across the details of Mandy and Derek Colbourne in a BPA magazine. They have a beautiful smallholding on the Carmarthenshire/Pembrokeshire border called Glyn Elwyn where they keep herds of Berkshire, Gloucester Old Spot and Middle White pigs as well as flocks of Ryeland and Greyface Dartmoor Sheep.

Having had lie-ins till 7am for the past few weeks, it was time to relish the very last one today, as it’ll be a case of getting up early from now on to feed the new arrivals. As it’s turned cold this last week and the little ones have only just weaned, they’ll be kept in for the next few months on deep straw beds. I’ll post some decent pictures soon, and we’ll probably have another of our naming competitions (bacon for the winner!).

Ribs? No. Belly pork?

I didn’t start this blog as a ranting platform, it’s just that sometimes I have a need to vent and this is as easy a place as any. I know that I’m old before my time, and that I’m fast becoming a grumpy old man. The reason? Well a visit to a local butchers shop today left me having a mini 10 minute rant (with myself) as I drove off to a meeting. I’d stopped to do some banking, pop to the post office and grab a sandwich for lunch. I’d spotted a new butchers shop a few weeks back and although curiosity had drawn me in previously (ok, I was snooping), I hadn’t actually bought anything. As they had a hot counter I thought to myself; why not, let’s grab a sandwich. As I waited patiently for the luke warm offering I was eavesdropping on the conversation behind me, it went something like this…

Customer: Do you have any ribs?

Butcher (though I use this in its loosest form possible): We have belly pork.

Customer: Are those ribs?

Butcher: Ummm… I could slice them for you to make belly pork slices.

Customer: But are they ribs?

Butcher: [As he picks up a skin-on, unboned belly joint] Ummmm… erh… yeah.

Customer: I’ve got a recipe for ribs. How do I cook it?

Butcher: Roast it, and you’ll have nice crackling.

Customer: Is there usually crackling with ribs?

Butcher: I can cut the skin off for you?

She went on to ask for duck, by that point I was headed out the door, if I’d have stayed any longer I’d have slipped her my card and told her where to go for a selection of properly cut ribs, or worse, I’d have climbed the counter and taught him to sheet bone.

What’s happened to the butchers shops of my youth? We had three in our village (only one remains). They were beautiful white tiled palaces, always a little damp and cold, but clean with sawdust covered floors. They’d have green plastic fake grass (?) filled display cases and the butchers would be jolly, rosy cheeked fellas who called every woman ‘luv’ regardless of their age. On the subject of meat, they’d have encyclopaedic knowledge of every carcass that had passed through their door – they might have tried the odd ‘upselling’ tactic but they knew their clod from their brisket and their ribs from their loins.

Then again, back then, it was just fields around here. Kids played tidy in the street and you could get a good night out, a belly full of beer and a fish supper and still have change from a shilling.