It’s a beautiful day, the sun is out and clear blue sky’s radiate across Manchester, the city whose bright rays of great northern soul have stretched out across the world over the last century. Be it cotton, football or the incredible music it has produced and shared to the delights of all.
The lockdown we find ourselves enduring has felt more difficult for many due to the dark and long winter nights and the wet and cold weather. Deterring us from the local adventures many of us undertook in the summer of 2020. The quote from C S Lewis’ Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe “Always winters but never Christmas”, I feel encapsulates the last 2 or 3 months and we have needed, ever more so, to take care of each other and discover the pure enjoyment of a simpler and slower life. You can feel the days are starting to get longer. The temperatures are rising, and its clear winter is finally retreating to the advancing spring. We point forward and hope to a summer with returning freedom and the beginnings of getting back to something resembling normal.
If there is one thing positive to come out of this pandemic, it is the realisation that on our doorstep there are many truly wonderful things. Back when the supermarket shelves were empty due to panic buying, it was to our local butchers we turned to. Throughout this past year, there has been many a healthy queue outside ours. Most days resembling Christmas time demand, with 4 or 5 people, spaced 2 meters apart, all waiting for their high-quality produce.
It was midday and I joined my fella Mancunians in the queue outside Patterson’s Butchers in Mossley. The purpose of my visit was to pick up a beautiful leg of lamb for a slow roasted Sunday dinner with all the trimmings. Obviously the best warm up to a traditional roast dinner would be a bacon and sausage butty that morning (butty = muffin/barm/roll/wherever you are in the globe…). A dozen rations of bacon and 8 Old English Sausages made with pure steak cuts of pork will soak up the night before indulgences… Patterson’s like a lot of butchers has expanded its range of produce over the past year. These include fresh locally grown vegetables, a stunning array of cheeses and continental cured meats, fresh bread and locally sourced pies. Well… it would be rude to leave the establishment without the latter…. Lined up were perfect pork pies, in a variety of sizes. I opted for the large one (obviously…) and picked a few cheeses and a jar of pickle to build a ploughman’s for midday grub. These pies were sourced from a local bakery in the heart of Ashton Under-Lyne called Chapel bakery, not far from Ashton’s Masonic Hall.
I rushed home to prepare the feast for the family and it did not disappoint. To be fair it’s hard to get the meal wrong with such quality produce and the pie was epic! The meat was succulent and well-seasoned. The pastry perfectly wrapped around the outer sphere and the bake was exceptional. A healthy presence of jelly keeping the meat moist and no air gap. The soft pastry had a beautiful crispy crust and a perfectly soft inner side. I had mine cold and it was lovely, but I could imagine the juices flowing when warmed up… yum! This was a class pork pie and standing proof that we have stunning local produce right on our doorstep and at reasonable prices.
Hero butchers and bakers (and obviously candle stick makers) keeping a smile on our faces and we keep stepping forward in these strange and peculiar times. Spring and summer will soon be upon us and I hope to see my friends again. Hear tails of their journeys and experiences. The clinking of pint glasses and the sharing of truly great and humbling pies. This one makes the list. As I conclude, I can look forward to more favourable time later in 2021, oh and a yummy breakfast butty and mouth watering slow roast lamb dinner and all life’s trimmings.
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