Trip to Mons, Brindisa, Cannon & Cannon, Ham & Cheese Co…
Team Ham trotting around markets and arches in…
The Big Smoke. Words by George Brabin, Kitchen Manager.
The phrase we hear on the Ham Bar more often than not is how lucky we are to work with such amazing charcuterie and cheese. We couldn’t agree more, and what’s more it’s an absolute joy to work as closely with our suppliers as we do. So when our French Cheese wizards at Mons asked us to pay them a visit, we didn’t hesitate.
The trip was arranged and the news had now spread throughout the close food community in East London, so the plans had changed to include meeting the Spanish food giants Brindisa, the British Charcuterie Forefathers Cannon and Cannon, and the source of Friends of Ham inspiration in Ham and Cheese Co and The Kernel Brewery.
The first port of call was the affectionately named ‘Cheese Caves’ of Mons in Bermondsey. Three large men crawling out of a small car after a 5-hour journey at 11am is not what Jane was expecting but how welcoming she was. Jane Hastings, of Mons Cheesemongers has been introducing the British Isles to the best cheese that France has to offer for many years. We were shown around the soft cheeses and the hards and then the best bit of any visit. THE TASTING. It’s no secret that the French are proud of their cheeses and they have every right to. From strong nutty Beaufort to a punchy washed rind Munster to a delicate St Gamay. The visit reaffirmed our love for Mons and the great produce they bring to us.
A short 2-3 minute walk down the numerous railway arches and you come to a little area containing some amazing suppliers. When Claire and Anthony Kitching, the owners of Friends of Ham, were based in London they would often go to this area. Why? Incredible Italian and French charcuterie and the beer from the best brewery in the country. Seems like a valid enough reason to me and this is where the spark that would be Friends of Ham was ignited. Upon arriving it was a barrage of incredible tasting hams and salamis. Elliott walked us through a vast array of products from Lardo to Cullacia ham and Oozy Gorgonzola to a Truffle Salami. There is a smell in Ham and Cheese company that does not belong. It’s not an unpleasant scent at all. It’s the distinctive smell of malts and hops. The Kernel Brewery encases the Ham & Cheese Co arch and that’s a treat for the senses.
The Kernel beers have always been at the forefront of the craft beer scene in Britain. They are in Billy’s opinion the most consistently excellent brewery in the country, taking classic styles and producing modern flavour filled beers.
We were ushered into the brewery by Chun the face of the company and told to grab a glass. The best way to be invited into a brewery. We tasted the freshest beers I’ve ever sampled with the highlight being their Pale Ale with Ella and Ekuanot hops. Such a well-balanced and tasty pale ale. A pilgrimage for any beer enthusiast and would definitely recommend heading to the wonderful place.
We left Bermondsey in search of my favourite place in all of London. A short journey on the underground to London Bridge. The bridge is not what we were in the area for in fact we were there for one thing. Borough Market. The biggest array of foods from all corners of the world all brought together by dedicated foodies. The market is home to all of our London Suppliers. We were here to see the legend that is Rafa of Brindisa. We have always had a strong relationship with Brindisa and get incredible Spanish produce from them. Rafa took us straight to their restaurant in the market, Brindisa Tapas. The food is off the chart good, the wine is special and the service impeccable. I won’t go into too much detail other than to say Go. Just go there it’s an experience you need to experience when in London. We gained some great inspiration for our new venture Ham and Friends, opening very soon, from Rafa and his Spanish goodies.
Last stop was the other side of the market and going from renowned Spanish delicacies to the upcoming British Charcuterie masters in Cannon and Cannon. They are really pushing the general public to get on board with what Britain can bring to the cured meat stage. We work side by side with them and want to showcase everything our country has to offer. Our great friend Mikaela met us in their office and brought succulent slice of meat one after another, bringing a smile to our faces. It’s not until you are there tasting everything that you realise what a great variation of charcuterie we have in the country. An aged smoked mutton, hot smoked duck breast, Sichuan pepper salami and even seaweed and cider salami. A lot of things we sampled will be joining the menu at Friends of Ham so keep your eyes peeled.
It’s true we are a lucky bunch of people sometimes. The hard graft on a Saturday or the 7am starts on a Monday are all worth it when you know how incredible the ingredients we work with are. We would never be who we are today without our friends in London and we thank them daily for introducing us to new exciting meats and cheeses and being able to share them with the lovely people of Leeds.
See you all at the Ham Bar.
George and The Kitchen Team
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