Staff visit to Scotts Field Pork
Walking the Pork
Visiting our suppliers is incredibly important; it gives us the confidence in that product, builds good relations with the producer, answers questions we may have and gives staff members a unique experience to talk about what they use in our kitchens in their own words.
The entire kitchen team from the hotel and Cocoe’s visited Rob Simmond’s rare breed pigs at Oxborough along with other local users of the fabulous meat on an erratic summer day in June, high temperatures, brilliant sunshine and black thunderstorm clouds shaped our ‘Walking of the Pork’. Also on the tour were Keith Brown from Visit East Anglia and Pete Waters from Visit Norfolk who went on to give talks on the importance of our food offering in creating a unique visitor experience. The tourist industry is worth 2.8 billion pounds to the Norfolk economy and employs 54,000 people – half of these are employed on a full time basis. Pete went on to explain the vital work in raising consciousness of Norfolks great food basket, ‘About six years ago we set up The Norfolk Food & Drink Festival to help promote the individual offers that the different parts of Norfolk have to offer. It has grown since then into a month long celebration of everything that we have to attract tourists to our county. Food & Drink are the cherry on the cake as far as our tourist industry is concerned and foodwebs are becoming an increasingly important part of the attraction.’
Rob says of his produce, ‘”We produce meat that is full of flavour and succulence, something that is missing from the mass produced food that most of us eat today".
The setting for his Large Black pigs is the beautiful west Brecks, more specifically the fields neighbouring Oxburgh Hall.
Born and reared outside, the pigs are grown slowly and are free to roam in spacious paddocks which encourage their natural behaviour. Although rare today the breed is indigenous to East Anglia and the meat produced is renowned for being flavoursome with a succulent texture.
Owner, Robert Simond’s comes from a background of commercial pig breeding but now continues the tradition begun by his great grandfather Dr Andrew Kay who first kept a herd of pedigree large blacks in his orchard at The Manor House, Blakeney in North Norfolk during the 1920s. Scott’s field pork is very much a family affair too; Rob's wife Sarah and their two children Georgie & Paddy are all involved with looking after the pigs as well as their small flock of Jacob sheep. Sarah and Georgie were with us for our walk and chatted away answering our numerous questions
‘With it’s lop ears and long deep body the Large Black is Britains only all-black pig. Extremely docile and very hardy it is ideally suited to outdoor rearing. The breed originates from The Old English Hog established in the 16th & 17th centuries. Described by Parkinson in 1810 ‘They are distinguished by their gigantic size, they are the largest of the kind I have ever seen and as perfect a make as possible in pigs.’’
In the early part of the 20th century, Large Blacks were widely distributed throughout the country and were frequently crossed with other breeds to produce both bacon and pork pigs. The breed was also extremely successful in the show ring at this time outnumbering all other breeds at the Royal Show in 1919. In the same year the Smithfield supreme champion sold for 700 gunieas.
We were explained that a change in eating habits lead to a decline in numbers in the 1960s and the Large Black is now registered as a rare breed, rarer than the Siberian tiger with only a few hundred registered sows left in the UK so Robs pigs represent quite a large proportion of the national herd. It is clear that the Simonds are very passionate about the survival of these pigs but recognise that one of the reasons they are no longer as popular as they once were is because the carcass can be too fat for modern taste – this is why they use a Duroc as the terminal sire.
We serve Rob’s Black pig, which we purchase through the town butchers Impson’s, in the restaurant, at breakfast and in CoCoe’s in Maggie’s fabulous Brecks 8 oz sausage rolls a great favourite with many including comedian Al Murray who tweeted to his 30,000 followers ‘the best sausage roll-ever’.
Staff visit to Rare Breeds Farm at Stow Bardolph Tuesday 18th June 2013
Staff visit to Go Ape at Thetford Forest Monday 20th May 2013
On the 2oth of May 2013 myself and a team from Strattons set off , with slight trepidation in our hearts, well definitely in mine, to ‘Go Ape’ an adventure course based at High lodge in the heart of Thetford Forest about 20 minutes away from the hotel. I have to admit I was a little nervous, I have never been the greatest lover of heights and I truly had no idea what to expect from the day. We arrived at the High Lodge and were quickly shown to the practice area where my nerves started to disappear. The people were so welcoming and obviously knew exactly what they were doing. We were all strapped into our harnesses and set off on the course. It takes you through the canapé of trees on zip wires, wooden swings, over things under things and across things. It was such a fun day which we all really enjoyed. There is also a children's version for the smaller members of the family and lots of other things to do at High lodge as well as Segways to ride on and a new addition of paintball so you can definitely make a day of it like we did. It was such an exhilarating fun day which we all really enjoyed. I would recommend Go Ape to anyone who fancied a fun, exhilarating, active day out even if it doesn’t sound like something you would usually do because like me I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Recycling Innitiative 2012
Our staff have created some great ideas for recycling waste streams at the hotel, here are a few ideas to try at home:
Charlie, our restaurant manager wanted to find a way to recycle our used Coffee Granules generated from the hotel's restaurant and onsite cafe deli. We are now drying our used granules and re-bagging them in their original packaging and giving them away to guests and visitors to the hotel, as well as working with Swaffham's Allotment group SCALGA.
Take a bag home with you!
Used Coffee Granules are a fantastic deterrent for slugs and snails in your garden. The nitrogen when mixed with your compost will ensure your flowers flourish!
The granules are also a great way to treat cellulite! Simply rub into the skin with oil & see the results after just one use! Demi Moore reportedly loves the treatment & printed advice is available at reception on request.
This coffee has been recycled & naturally dried without the need for mechanical energy. The granules have been collected from CoCoes Deli, ‘The Rustic’ restaurant & used coffee trays from our 14 rooms. They are travelling home with you in the bag we received the original beans in & as if our halo wasn’t shiny enough the original beans are organic, fair-trade & certified by the Rainforest Alliance!
... Well, when you have such a high quality product it seems a shame not to re-use it!
While these granules are with our compliments, we do ask that guests make a small donation to our collection for the Neuroblastoma Society. Neuroblastoma is a rare and aggressive childhood cancer. The charity's sole purpose is for the relief of children suffering from Neuroblastoma by raising funds for medical research into improving both diagnosis and treatment.
We hope you enjoy the benefits & please do let us know if you have other uses for coffee granules you would like to share!
RSPCA Corporate Week 30th April – 6th May 2012
Team Strattons got involved with raising money for RSPCA week by making animal themed cakes and selling them at CoCoes cafe deli. All funds raised are going to the cause.
We were very impressed with the efforts made, check out the fab cakes!
DOM & HANNAH