You call it Longhorn? Calling out the lie

8th May 2018 16:26 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at The Clive last weekend. A restaurant with rooms, it sits in the Oakly Estate outside Ludlow, and next to the infamous Ludlow Food Centre. It prides itself on the sourcing local food from the estate through the Food Centre, including all its meat from its butchers. Indeed, the food was wonderful. But that was not the problem... 
The fillet steak carried a supplement of £12.00. I asked the waitress the beef breed. She started to explain what a fillet was. Once I explained what a breed was, she called the manager over. He could reassure me the beef was entirely grass fed, but did not know the breed. He wanted to ask the chef and duly did. He returned triumphantly to tell me it was Longhorn. Pedigree, I asked? (ignoring my wife's sighs). Yes, he told me.
I was immediately suspicious as Longhorn is the breed of the moment. Move over Aberdeen Angus - you have become too favoured by supermarkets and fast food outlets as their premium offering (even though it might be crossed with any other breed).  Breeds have become fads not flavours, and this is so sad. 
The steak was the perfect blue, melt in mouth. Absolutely wonderful. 
The next morning I asked the estate butchers if they had any of that excellent Longhorn ( :-) ). 
But you have some on the estate?
Any, ever?
What breed is your beef? 
Crosses - Hereford / Friesan etc. 
The irony here is I could catch out the chef because of the very tight and honest supply chain. The beef was excellent because it is hung for a full 28 days following slaughter 6 miles away and the animals are grass fed. Indeed, I returned for Sunday lunch the next day.
But the breed of an animal is more than a fashion tag. If I had a pound for every Gloucester Old Spot sausage that wasn't, that we as a nation ate last year, I would probably be a millionaire. But the name sounds so good, doesn't it? So does Longhorn - and they look so great, too.
But calling all chefs - breeds are not made up names, they represent centures of passionate breeding to create unique textures and flavours of meat, milk and cheese, but also to suit and sustain specific environments and regions. They create a diverse gene pool unparalleled anywhere else in the world. They provide you opportunities to create something special. No reason to lie. 
Matthew Rymer
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position Happerley or its Board