Spring Lamb is a traditional dish for Easter – but chances are, you won’t have tasted anything like the lamb coming to the Specials Menu at The Bear at Crickhowell.
Our Head Chef, Padrig Jones, loves finding the very best, locally sourced, Welsh ingredients for seasonal specials and he’s been out on the farm to source Pedigree Black Welsh Mountain Lamb for Easter.
They are one of Wales’ oldest rare breeds and are bred by John and Hillary Garn from prize-winning stock at Upper House Farm near Monmouth, about 20 miles from The Bear.
Padrig went to visit the farm to check the condition of the lambs and how they have been bred. He said: “It’s incredibly important to me to know where the food I am serving comes from. These lambs have not been reared intensively. They have been grazing on meadows, eating the herbs and flowers in the borders which will add to the flavour and they have been outside, so they have been able to exercise. The meat will be a bit leaner than other lamb but still very tender because the muscles have been working.”
“I have tasted lamb in different countries around the World. I have had lamb from the Pyrenees, which is absolutely incredible, but Welsh lamb is fabulous. And people want to try local produce when they visit The Bear and you don’t get much more local than this.”
The flock at Upper House Farm are bred primarily for showing. The prize winners are kept or sold to other farmers to preserve the breed, and the rest are sold for meat.
But you won’t find this lamb on a butcher’s counter. Hillary said: “The meat is slightly darker than the lamb you see in supermarkets and therefore what consumers are used to. But it has a much better flavour, so we sell direct to hotels and restaurants who know how best to prepare the dishes. The chef’s love it and they say their costumers do, too.”
The lamb will be butchered to order by Richards Butchers, just across the road from The Bear and will be available during the Easter Holidays.
“It will be prepared simply, but beautifully,” Padrig said, “this flavour needs to speak for itself and I want to do justice to the lambs that John and Hillary lovingly breed.”