The meat box cometh

October 25, 2007

Riverford meat box delivery

We received our first Riverford meat box delivery on Saturday. I’d spent the morning hovering in the frontroom, gazing down the garden path like a little kid waiting for the birthday post to arrive. We were both totally stoked (Ozspeak for jolly glad) when it arrived, and danced a little caper around the kitchen.

Riverford meat box

And this is what we got for our hard-earned moolah (46 squid, give or take a bob or two):

750g pork roast
400g sausages
300g bacon
300g beef burgers
400g beef mince
400g braising steak
400g rump steak
A whole organic chicken
200g ham

Which, like the legendary England all-rounder, is very Beefy and none the worse for it.

The rump steaks have been scoffed already, providing two hearty meals. We partnered them up on both occasions with the pickings from our latest forraging expedition to Hampstead Heath. On one occasion the MC served them under a pile of unidentified ‘shrooms, which we thought at the time were Clouded Agarics, but which we later realised bore more than a passing resemblance to the deadly poisonous Death Cap (result: complete organ collapse in about 72 hours). The next evening we played safe and served them with a splodge of harmless sweet chestnut puree. All very Hugh Firmly Whatsisface.

Sweet chestnuts


Southern Rock

September 15, 2007

Riverford Veg Box

My mum has always sworn by Northern Rock, saying you couldn’t get a safer investment. It’s a family truism that they’re the best folks to take care of your dosh – I inherited a handful of shares (now almost worthless) from my Grandad and have always had my saving account with them. I wonder how far our collective faith in this company has been due to its name – ‘Northern’ implying no-nonsense, sensible, honest – ‘Rock’ denoting safe, reliable – rather than any objective judgement of their financial acumen.

So now a pillar of my inherited wisdom has been removed, it’s a good time to celebrate those certainties which are left – of which one is surely the Riverford veg box. If you order it, it will come; and it will be good. A Southern Rock. This week’s small box was particularly pleasing aesthetically – a still-life cornucopia of vegetable matter, including…

  • a bunch of young turnips, with tops
  • a bunch of small, stubby carrots
  • a butternut squash
  • a bag of Maris Peer tatties
  • a bag of onions
  • sweet peppers – two green, one yellow
  • a pointy cabbage

So I could spend all day down my local NR branch, queueing for my savings, or I could stay at home, pull out my most trusted cook books and plan a fitting end for these fine specimens of vegetablehood.

Veg Box

Maybe not as green as Jonathan Porrit, Kermit or Peter Shilton’s jersey. Probably greener than Orvill or David Cameron. The wintery excess of root has given way to a springy excess of leaf – cabbage, leeks, cauliflower, courgette, pepper, chard and P Sprouting. This week’s box suffers from a visual monotony, a flash of hot scarlet would be a welcome counterpoint to all the cool green. The MC is away all next week visiting the North Yorks posse, it looks like I’m going to have to go into full-on rabbit mode to get throught this lot.

His and hers veg boxes

February 8, 2007

Twin veg box

Due to a cock-up with our ordering, we received twin fruit’n’veg boxes this week. The wench and I already own matching white towelling dressing gowns, beige corduroy jackets, and his’n’hers Le Creuset pans. We are now the proud owners of his’n’hers veg boxes as well.

Maybe Riverford should start designing box sets aimed at doting couples. They could offer a choice of pink girlie boxes (passion fruit, baby spinach, pretty cauliflowers) and blue blokey boxes (spuds, kale, muscular parsnips). If they could get them out in time for Valentines Day, I think they’d be on to a winner.

What’s in the box?

January 6, 2007

What's in the box/

A Veg Box Refugee

October 13, 2006

A veg box refugee

There was a refugee hiding in our veg box this week. This green furry stowaway tumbled out of a head of calabrese onto the chopping board. To begin with, he played dead, thinking himself mighty clever. But once he spied the giant steel blade descending, he began to sprint for safety. We taunted him lazily with a broccoli leaf for a few minutes, before tossing him into the bowl of peelings. Perhaps he’ll find a leafy asylum in the Haringey municipal compost heap.

Organic meat box

The quest for a reliable source of fine organic meats has led us this week to the knowingly-named Well Hung Meat Company. This lot are based in Buckfastleigh, just down the round from Riverford farm in South Devon, an area of the country which must surely have a uniquely high concentration of right-on farmers per square hectare.

And why did we choose this company? Because they’ve got a photo of Hugh Furry-Wheatheringstal handing them a certificate on the front of the website. Because they’ve got Soil Association Organic Food Awards coming out of their hairy pig’s ears. Because they came first in Google when we searched for an organic meat delivery company, and we’re too lazy to look any further. And because, if their name is anything to go by, they leave their carcasses strung up to mature slowly for a decent length of time. Which I’ve been told is a GOOD THING.

I don’t know about you, but I’m usually too distracted to study the small print about how these country folk rear, educate and slaughter their animals – if their farm has won a load of organic awards and HFW thinks they’re alright, then that’s good enough for me. Well meaning but lazy consumers like me will always just look for a trusted logo, rather then investigating deeply into the origins of the produce, which is why articles like this in yesterday’s Guardian are quite worrying.

Anyway, we ordered their introductory meat box, which comes in at the non-trivial price of £40, plus an £8 delivery charge. And what did we get for our hard-earned reddies?

*a 750g topside of beef (£11.39)
*a 410g pack of lamb loin chops (£6.56)
*a 1.4kg leg of lamb (£18.12)
*a 495g pack of beef steak mince (£4.45)
*a 395g pack of sausages (£3.16)

Which Maths chick has added up to come to er…. 40…. um…. carry 3…. um 42 pounds and…. no, hold on, 43 pounds and 68 new pence. Which is a saving of almost £4 for the intro box. Which is better than nowt.

I reckon we could get more meat for our cash down at Islington farmer’s market (with fewer food miles) but that would involve getting out of bed before midday on a Sunday and sitting on a bus for an hour. Hence we’re happy to foot the extra quids to have our joints delivered. At least I am – Maths chick thinks 50 quids a bit steep for four smallish packs of meat and a decent-sized leg of lamb. I reckon you’ve got to be prepared to pay at least twice as much as usual for properly butchered organic meat to be delivered to your door.

The most traumatic thing about getting the box was that, because we were both at work, the delivery man left the box with the people in the dodgy-looking house across the road. Now if this was in a wee country village that would be no problem. But, living as we do in Norf London, imagine our distress when we realised we would have to MAKE CONTACT with our neighbours. Not only this but surely, we agreed, they’d have opened the box by now and injected smack into our lamb chops.

However, our paranoid fears turned out to be ill-founded as the box was delivered to our door during the night by our saintly neighbour, who even left a card with a smiley flower on the front and this message inside:

“Good Morning! Here is your dinner, I hope no foxes have run off with it! Sorry, I took it in and then went out all day, but I left it in our fridge, so it has been kept cold. Hope it’s all present and correct!
Zoe at Number 19

And in return, I’ve just dropped round a jar of our home-made apple chutney as a little token of thanks. Ain’t we lovely, too?

So not only do we now have a fridge full of well-hung lamb and beef, we also have a renewed belief that common kindness and humanity still flourishes, even in the sink of depravity that is 21st century London. And surely this is proof that the organic food box movement breaks down the barriers of fear and prejudice that blight urban life.

Hurrah for Zoe! Hurrah for us! Hurrah for the Well Hung Meat Co!