I was very lucky to have received a voucher at Christmas time from Greg for a butchery course at Source, who are based in St Nicks Market in Bristol. They sell meat, patisserie, fresh fish, fruit and veg, cheese, to beers and wines – along with having a café on the other side of the store. This gift in particular was thoughtful and practical because I love learning real skills in the kitchen; I’ve also volunteered for an Italian restaurant back in Leicester, where I picked up the skills to prepare ingredients that organises the restaurant for the rest of the day. This involved cleaning mussels, preparing sauces, to making desserts like tiramisu. But to this day, the one skill I’m more than thankful for, is cutting up a whole chicken into all the wonderful pieces you can get from it; thighs, breast, wings, and bones for rich, delicious stock – each and every time. It not only gives you the chance to use all the meats in a variety of ways, but it helps to keep the cost down and allows you to appreciate making the most out of the whole animal. If I tell you a little something about Source first to give you an idea about them… They’ve been around for over 5 years, and have a handful of skilled staff who come from different backgrounds; from chef-ing to prepping ingredients for places like The Fat Duck. There’s clearly knowledge and experience behind this place. But what I found most important about them, is that they work with integrity. They know where their meat comes from, encourage customers to try a variety of cuts and always, always provide more information than you may have expected – from how to cook the meat in the best way possible to understanding how freezing methods can effect the meat. You feel like you can trust them in the knowledge they provide, and most importantly, it doesn’t end with just a quick purchase and they’re off to the next paying customer – they take time with you to talk and share as much as they can on that visit. On the night of my course, I arrived a bit early and had a cup of tea whilst having friendly conversations with other soon to be ‘butchery experts’. It was a relaxed and calm environment. The two gentlemen running the course then came and introduced themselves, led us upstairs to where the evening was taking place, and we were first welcomed to our space with an apron and, the butchers knife (as seen in the pic) which we’d both get to use and take home! What a sharp and useful knife it is too! We were then shown their fridge with some of the stored cut animals, which was a bit shocking at first, then you come to realise you’ve kind of prepared for such a view and after all – this is closer to the reality of eating meat! They explained how the flesh and muscles work in some of the animals and how this directly effects the result of the meat afterwards, and how we can cook them for best results. This was a fantastic way of understanding the ins and outs of each animal I may cook and thinking about it in this way before preparing it. Once settled back to our stations after such an in depth amount of information, we were offered two ways of cooked beef – showing us the difference in taste, texture and tenderness. The animal/cut we used was lamb shoulder, which we learnt to de-bone, roll and tie the knots with a butcher’s string. The meat then belonged to us to take home with the suggestions on how to cook it. As simple as this may all sound, it took time to actually understand where the bones were in the meat and how best to take it out, with careful consideration – instead of hacking away at the flesh and cutting too deep into the muscles, as this effects the meat when storing and cooking it later. Being given information and access to understanding pork, beef and lamb in this session, I’m glad to say I feel more confident in taking a piece of meat home and taking time to understand how I cut it and use all the parts – to ensure I’m using everything and making the most out of each experience. Source also runs a charcuterie and fish course too which I’d love to attend – and hope to do so in the near future. I really did appreciate the time they took with us and how much knowledge we gained in just 2 1/2hours. Before leaving, they packed up our meat with knife and placed it in this Slow Food Bristol bag – cute isn’t it! All in all, I was more than happy when I walked away that evening with my bag of goodies – now looking forward to cutting my lamb shoulder into separate parts to create a few dishes from it. Greg’s making tagine tonight and tomorrow I should be making lamb samosas and roast… Why yes, I will be sure to share recipes later!