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A Meaty Little Number in Notting Hill – Provenance Butchers:
Being invited to review a Butcher Shop is not your everyday ‘restaurant review’. But, I was curious about Provenance – partly because their ethos to promote traditional animal husbandry. I’m a ‘grass-fed’ beef fan. I really CAN taste the difference and while the science may at times be obscure (perhaps something to do with the food industry?), the evidence suggesting that grass fed meat is better for you is something I’ve already written about. And, the idea of a Wagyu beef Wellington piqued my interest still further. While Notting Hill isn’t quite my village it’s near enough for me to shop there sometimes and so I felt obliged to pop along and check out what they were up to.
Provenance was launched last summer by Kiwis Erin Hurst and Guy Gibson. Discontented with the quality of supermarket meat and yearning for the taste of the fabulous steak they enjoyed growing up in New Zealand’s pastoral paradise, Erin and Guy set out to create a butchers with a difference; selling only grass-fed, free-range meat. Wagyu features strongly on the counter – a Japanese breed of cattle that is famous for it’s marbling, but which is also meant to be healthier, with the particular ratio of mono unsaturated to saturated fats and levels of stearic acid supposedly helping with cholesterol issues normally associated with red meat.
Erin at Provenance told me that they visit all the farms that supply their shop, generally staying over for a night to really get an understanding of how the place operates. And, that they work with pastry supremo Julia Cotter, another Kiwi, and Leith’s trained chef who has worked with Yotam Ottolenghi and Peter Gordon to offer a range of pies and savoury pastries (including the Wagyu beef wellington) to their customers. There’s also a range of deli meats and sauces, with names I know and love including Trealy Farm and Luchito. And of course there’s the meat.
I was sent away with a selection of sausages and beef. I actually got quite nervous about cooking the beef – two different types of Wagyu steak – the first Oyster Blade, Flat Iron or Strip Steak, the second a prime Wagyu Rib-Eye. I’ve learnt that you can very easily spoil excellent meat by not understanding the way to cook a particular cut. Oyster Blade is a lean, relatively thin steak that is best suited to pan frying and that, under normal circumstances, I might have used in a posh stir fry or stroganoff. But I really wanted to serve the meat ‘pure’ so that I could compare it with the ribeye. Because it is both lean and thin it’s very easy to overcook it. Get it right and you’ll have a wonderfully well flavoured steak for less than half the price of a ribeye or fillet.
Ribeye, although it is much loved by the meat world, is something I generally avoid because of the fat. In fact, a really good ribeye will be marbled throughout – and Wagyu beef even has a grading system for the amount of marbling. This particular steak, retailing at just over £40 a kilo, was apparently a grade IV level of marbling. Again, I was nervous – to ‘melt’ the fat, I’ve been advised to cook ribeye over a medium hot flame. And I really didn’t want to spoil this rather expensive steak!
Actually both steaks were a great success. A suprise to me, I did prefer the ribeye – the fat really had pretty much completely melted by the time the steak was cooked (2 minutes on each side and 4 minutes resting!). I used my griddle for it, lightly coating the steak with oil and seasoning with salt and pepper before adding to the pre-heated pan.
Both steaks had that wonderful, unique flavour that grass fed beef has – but the ribeye was just more tender and melting. And, having said it was expensive, my 220g of prime wagyu ribeye retailed at just over £10 – so a lot cheaper than ordering it in a restaurant where you’ll be paying upward of £40.
As for the Wild Boar with Apple Sausages – well, inspired by my visit to La Polenteria, I had a try again at making a Tuscan style tomato sauce. Only I added in carrots and celery (probably not very authentic), along with the red wine garlic, onion and tomatoes. Very delicious, there will be more about this dish in my next recipe post.
If you’d like to try some of Provenance Butcher’s meat, you’ll find them to the North end of Notting Hill
33 Kensington Park Rd,
And they deliver to addresses in W10, W11, W2 and W8. Free of charge on all orders over £50.
Disclaimer: I was provided with samples of meat from Provenance Butcher.