Ever since we first opened in 2006 we’ve bought all of our beef from revered butchers and farmers the Ginger Pig. Tim Wilson (Mr Ginger Pig) rears native breed cattle, most of which are Longhorn, on some of the most beautiful farmland in the country on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. His herd also includes some rare breeds, such as Riggits and the occasional Hereford or Lincoln Red.
It seems strange, but eating native and rare breeds is a good thing. The more demand there is for old-fashioned cattle that hasn’t been genetically mucked around with, the more likely farmers are to go to the extra effort and expense of rearing them (they grow more slowly, require more space and aren’t as big as more profitable modern commercial cross-breeds). Which means that the breeds we use hopefully won’t go the way of the Norfolk Red, the Sheeted Somerset and the Dodo.
So we’re pleased to say that as our customers have grown (in numbers as well as size) Tim has searched the country for small farms that share his standards and ethics to help meet the demand. We recently visited one run by Michael Wentworth-Waites, a true Gentleman Farmer, whose Belted Galloways roam in a 16th century deer park overlooking Haweswater in the Lake District. This former hunting ground of kings and noblemen is now classified as woodland pasture so rare that it’s an area of national natural importance.
His herd live outside all year round, getting a very varied diet – picking at grasses, wild flowers and heather. The result is deeply flavoured beef. Michael rears the animals himself (he only has one other person that works there) and personally takes them to slaughter to minimise stress. Then Tim Wilson picks up the carcasses and ages and butchers the meat at his farm in Levisham.
So whilst the Ginger Pig still age and butcher all of our beef, Tim’s Longhorns and Riggits are now joined by Belted Galloways, South Devons, Lincoln Reds and the occasional pure bred Angus (but never the commercial cross with a dairy cow), all from farms that care about their animals and the flavour of the beef they produce, not just ‘efficiency’ and ‘yield-maximisation’ – the cornerstones of commercial beef production. The result, we think, is the best tasting steak in the country.