Where, and how, it all began...
For me, good food becomes magical when three things come together - great ingredients, skill in the kitchen and, above all, passion.
For nearly 40 years I had reminisced about a hot summer I spent picking grapes in Provence when, after the day’s labours, we dined on amazing homemade terrine, pâté and local cheese accompanied by crusty baguette and teeth-staining immature red wine.
I have always felt that terrines and other preserved meat products are the essence of the French genius with food: simple ingredients, treated with respect in order to draw out their unique flavours. Almost nothing reflects that genius better than the humble terrine.
When I moved to rural Norfolk, the problem I faced was finding a great terrine, which proved next to impossible. I certainly found products that purported to be terrines but which turned out to be mere imposters.
On closer inspection of the extensive lists of ingredients I despaired. Potato starch? Sodium nitrite? Pasteurised egg and water? A 34% meat content?
So I decided to make them myself!
Using a combination of old recipes and my own kitchen intuition, I carefully sourced top quality Norfolk pork, game, wild boar, venison and wildfowl with which to create my own range of products. I excluded what I considered to be unnecessary ingredients such as egg, bread and preservatives. Rather, I included flavour-enhancing ingredients such as red wine, pink peppercorns and juniper berries.
Having been awarded a 5-star rating by the Environmental Health Inspectorate I began selling at local farmers' markets in 2016 and am happy to say that my idea took off!
Following the successful launch of my terrines I then developed my own recipes for traditional potted beef and smoked bacon pâté.
However, my most successful product to date is my Chicken Liver Parfait. I carefully created my own recipe in order to ensure it is egg, gluten and preservative-free. Recently, I further enhanced its flavour with the inclusion of finest Italian black truffle oil. This has been so successful I have called the parfait “Black Magic”. The reason for this is that when I do tastings at the markets, the reaction this particular parfait evokes is: “That tastes magical.”
Of course, like any successful food business, we're not standing still. I love getting feedback from customers, especially their thoughts on how we can further develop our products and add new ones. Ideas are welcome!
In future I would like to expand my range to include such items as the great ancient French dish, pork and duck rillettes.
I am hugely grateful to everyone who has tried my food and given me their support and I'm happy to say that Blackbird Cottage Foods is going from strength-to-strength! As a food producer, that's the best feeling!