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Monday, 20 October 2014

Chefs invited to go back to the source

MUTTON served on the final night of a culinary festival was sourced from Lake District sheep whose unique lifestyle is the secret to their success.

The One Week Only festival, organised by Lindal-based Lake District Farmers, came to a close at the Clarence House in Dalton on Tuesday.

The five-night extravaganza was held to raise money for the Lake District Farmers Armstrong Family Charitable Trust.

Eric and Susan Taylforth, who have farmed sheep at Millbeck Farm in the Great Langdale Valley since 1985, attended the closing night and enjoyed the main course option which featured a loin of their very own mutton loin with caramelised onion, barley and shepherd’s pie.

The couple regularly eat their own meat, but after tasting it cooked by chefs Paul Ainsworth and André Garrett, Mrs Taylforth said: “It was unbelievable, the difference in what they achieved with it. It was so tender.”

Their flock of around 2,500 sheep are free to roam from their farm at 650 feet above sea level.

Explaining the secret to the mutton they supply to Lake District Farmers, Mr Taylforth said: “The reason this mutton has become so popular is the fact the sheep have matured on what they find to eat, but there’s very little meat on them towards the end of their life.

“When they’re too old to go up on the fells, when they’re five or six-years-old, we fatten them as quickly as possible and that’s why they put this tender meat on.

“But they still seem to have this distinctive taste of the fells, with all the herbs and things they eat up there.”

Mr Ainsworth, who owns the prestigious Number 6 eatery in Cornwall, said: “The quality of Lake District Farmer’s produce is second to none.

“There’s a fantastic network of farmers they use and they know what they are looking for.

“The process of what they do and the way they age the meat is excellent.

“From the moment I tasted their meat I knew it was something special.” Dan Austin, Lake District Farmers managing director, said: “The event has been perfect.

“We’ve had absolutely fantastic feedback – it’s been overwhelming.

“The Clarence House staff were exceptional and the service has been as good as you could have asked for.”

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