This month Guernsey was graced with a Dingly Dell Flying Visit – and no that’s not the latest Telly Tubby, but actually a foodie event focused on animal welfare, delicious food from top chefs and lots of pork. Oink!
When I say ‘lots of pork’ I’m talking seven courses, from canapés to petit fours, expertly executed and delivered by seven different chefs with wines to match.
The evening was hosted by our very own Tony Leck at his latest venture The Pavilion, with the kitchen packed full of talent from all over the Island as well as the UK, including the Michelin starred Mark Poynton from Alimentum.
Enjoy 7 courses of pork? Pigs might fly. Flying Visits… see where I’m going with this. Sorry I could not resist.
Dingly Dell is a pig farm near the beautiful Deben Valley of Suffolk owned by brothers Mark and Paul Hayward. Mark opened the evening by explaining his happy pig philosophy and the secret of their meat’s award-winning flavour.
The farm have worked with the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods for over 15 years and are one of their few ‘Ambassador Farms’. The scheme aims to ensure the welfare of animals from birth to slaughter, and is currently celebrating it’s 20th year. The Flying Visits have been a huge success up and down mainland UK, raising money for charity as well as educating butchers, restaurateurs and chefs on their standards and philosophy. So far they have raised over £40,000 for various charities. The recipient is decided by the host of the evening, in this instance Tony Leck aptly invited our beloved GSPCA to benefit.
Before dining Shane Burrows, a Suffolk butcher for Direct Meats, gave us an enlightening demonstration on how to cut an entire side of pork, a 100kg live weight sow. With a hacksaw and a knife sharp enough to cut through thick skin as if it were butter he talked us through the various cuts of pork and how to get the best out of them in the kitchen, whilst farmer Mark Hayward explained that at the farm they are ‘tasked on taste rather than price driven.’ At which point I was surprisingly desperate to try some pork for myself!
The stand out dishes of the night for me where the crispy, soft, gooey layers of Davide Brehaut’s (Pavilion) Smoked Haddock Scotch Egg, and much to my surprise the Pig’s Head Fritters which were perfectly balanced by chef Eric Snaith (Titchwell Manor) with Fermented Cauliflower, Miso Satay and Yoghurt to expertly cut through the fatty, saltiness of the Pig’s Head.
Now I’m not usually a big fan of Belly Pork, but Tony Leck’s interpretation with Local Scallops, Guernsey Black Pudding, Roquette Cider and Pea Shoot Salad is going to strike a cord with any local diner. By now we were 4 courses deep with a slight meat-glow developing, but with the differentiation between the textures on the plate and the sweetness of the scallop it still managed to captivate the attention of it’s audience.
I think we hit the jackpot with our seating as we shared a table with Carole Stewart the PR Director for Freedom Foods and all-round food lover, Tim Coates with his head chef from Fermain Valley, 3 butchers from Direct Meats and Bob Waller, Agricultural Manager at Freedom Foods. There is nothing like a bit of foodie banter. To swap opinions, tips and ideas about food whilst eating well and drinking well is a true delight like no other.
What we do is about respecting the food you are eating. Happy pigs and great flavour go hand in hand and Dingley Dell Pork is all about taste and welfare.
We were promised a night of ‘guys being creative with pork’ and with the evening rounded off by Pork Sherbet and Smoked Chocolate Pork Quavers that was certainly what was delivered. What’s more, in addition to all of the lovely pork, the educational elements and the passion with which the producers and butchers spoke provided an added depth to the evening, leaving us diners with a sweet, porky taste of goodness in our mouths.
Words: Claud Falla
Images: Etienne Laine