We were having a bit of a wander around Hexham’s excellent Farmers’ market on a Saturday morning in March and came across what looks like quite a find. Wrapped up against a bitter wind we met Lee Scrimgeour and his colleague from Stonehouse Smokery in Cumbria. They had made their way across the Pennines from Carlisle in the teeth of a March blizzard in the west. Their reward a little welcoming watery sunshine but a bitter wind!
We were recompensed however by Lee’s boundless enthusiasm and some glorious tastes that transported us, at least metaphorically, to a much warmer Tuscany!! First up was a delightful wafer thin, oak smoked Coppa (see picture left). This was deliciously soft and moist, something often difficult to achieve in a Coppa. This was quickly followed by a very satisfying pancetta, cured with lemon zest and pink peppercorns and then topped off by a rich and creamy guanciale, something I have not found before locally in Northumberland.
I was really intrigued to find such wonderful charcuterie from a reasonably local supplier. These were every bit as good as the cured meats I have encountered in Italy, France and Germany. Interestingly, they really seemed to capture that essence of Tuscan Salumi, rather than other European charcuterie. They were very distinctive and full of local character. Each region tends to use different herbs and spicing for their cures. Clearly Lee, as a former chef, is following in that overall tradition. I have only rarely come across smoked Salumi in Italy but as you might expect from Stonehouse Smokery, these delightfully cured meats were smoked. Having said that, the smoking was extremely gentle in the samples we had and just added a further level of flavour to these delightful pork offerings!
Lee set up Stonehouse Smokery at Moorhouse, near Carlisle in 2017 to produce fine cured meats and charcuterie. From the brief encounter we had on Saturday he certainly seems to be succeeding. If you are looking for something just that little bit different, look them up online. I am really looking forward to taking up Lee’s invitation and visiting Stonehouse Smokery later in the year and sharing some more of Lee’s delightful products.