Winter stockpiling

The countryside has been shrouded in low mist for the past few days. A weekend walk on the Malvern Hills looked like this:

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Worcester Beacon

Although it’s not properly cold yet, the shift to mist and darkness has finally set the trees on their golden turn. Driving back from Stratford to Birmingham this afternoon, the fields stretched before me in monochrome tones, dotted with sheep, the sun hanging low in the sky. We’re moving from autumn to winter: I’ve seen flocks of geese and turkeys being fattened for the Christmas roast.

But we’re not quite there yet. So at this time of year, my thoughts turn to game. With so many shoots around, it’s time to stock up the freezer – game found at this time of year will still be relatively young but leave it until February and March and the meat will be that little bit older and tougher.

I suppose I could buy my game from the supermarket, but why would I when I live an hour from Ludlow, the foodie hotspot of England? We get to have a day out, eat excellent pie and chips in a proper pub, browse in a proper book shop and support small family businesses to boot.

So off we went, and my favourite Ludlow game butcher looked like this:

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Ludlow butcher

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We came back with a brace of pheasants, a fantastic rolled loin of local venison, two rabbits (a bargain at £3 each) plus sausages, a beef shank and various squeaky-fresh veg. If only all shopping could be so satisfying. The freezer is full.

Then on arriving home – laden with cheese from the market – Matt was given a selection of cuts from the World Cheese Awards, where a girlfriend-of-a-friend had been working. The fridge is now laden with manchego, gruyere, an unidentified sheep cheese, another unidentified cheese with a port-washed rind, plus taleggio, stinky cheddar, lancashire, you name it.

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Goodies from the World Cheese Awards

I am not entirely sure what I will do with this cheese mountain, but it does mean that there is no need to do any more shopping for days. Wonderful.

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