UK Trip Report: The London Sessions

We’re back from our vacation and holy God was it awesome.  I’m not going to regale you with the play by play of our honeymoon (for that, look for my upcoming sextape: “Sausage innuendo the musical”).  I would, however, like to pass along some of the meat related knowledge I gleaned while in the land of meat pies and Sunday roasts.  I dragged my way too understanding wife to no fewer than a dozen butcher shops, from the big names to the local joints and saw some amazing stuff along the way.  Here’s some of the highlights of the first leg of the trip: London.

Allens of Mayfair

We wandered into Allens while attempting to walk off the amazing meal we had the night before (Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – you didn’t ask but I paid a month’s rent to eat there so I’m going to get as much traction out of it as possible.  Life changing dinner.)  I was initially skeptical of the posh neighborhood but this place is a properly awesome shop.  As the oldest butchers in London it’s been in business since 1830, and you can certainly tell.  This place takes old school character to the next level.

We showed up right at closing time and ended up talking to the butcher and his trainee for close to half and hour.  The shop is tiny by anyone’s standards with a MASSIVE octagonal end-grain butcher block right in the dead center of the room.  If you ever find yourself in London it’s worth a trip to Allens just to see this beast.  The idea with the octagon shape is that when they teach classes, which they do weekly, each person can get their own station.  The actual meat on display was limited to the refrigerated case in the front window but it was a mixture of Scottish beef and imported American beef to satisfy the desires of high rollers staying in the hotel around the corner (there was a Ferrari parked out front and I figured I couldn’t afford to even find out what the name was).

Seriously, this table was HUGE

The Ginger Pig

I’ve loved The Ginger Pig from afar for years now.  The whole story of a scrappy farming and butchery upstart, committed to heritage breeds and old-school butchery really resonated with me.  Add to that a couple of cookbooks which clearly show some culinary prowess and I knew that a visit was in the offing.  We actually ended up visiting two of their seven locations, one in the thousand year old(!!!) Borough Market, and their second location on Moxon Street.  Both had a ton of really excellent offerings, including the meat pies that they deservedly hang their hats on.

We ended up at Moxon street around closing time (seems to be a theme) so I didn’t get a great look at their raw cuts but it’s an excellently laid out shop with by far the coolest rotisserie cooker I’ve ever seen.

Cannon & Cannon

Eating phenomenal dry cured meats and charcuterie in the middle of rainy London is the definition of cognitive dissonance.  You expect excellent cured products if you were traveling in Italy or France, but here they were in the middle of Borough Market with tables absolutely groaning with British made charcuterie.  Their business model involves collecting and curating the best products from some of the best local producers; including The Fruit Pig Company, Cobble Lane Cured and Good Game.  This stuff was to die for, and I ended up smuggling back several salamis for everyone back home at the shop to try.  The trick is to put the banned foodstuffs in your wife’s carry on.  She’ll never get searched.

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