When I read the title of the press release, “Virgin Trains Launches Best of British First Class Menu,” I was intrigued. British food is known the world over as being, well…bad. So I was interested to learn what Sir Branson and company found to be the best of the worst.
We all know Richard Branson is an environmental pioneer in the transportation industry. The latest manifestation of his tree hugging-ness is this particular menu, which is “sourced entirely from British produce, which can be traced from farm to plate.” It’s
good better for you and its carbon footprint is far lower than that of foods produced further afield and that is delicious no matter where you are on the globe.
“For our new First Class menu we wanted to offer our passengers only the finest British products. We had researched the ideal menu and ensured that everything we used could be traced and authenticated through the entire food chain”, said Nic Cuthbertson, Virgin Trains Product Development and Purchasing Manager.
Traditional English sausages, Welsh beef, Scottish beef and locally crafted cheeses top the list of ingredients, all from sources that are able to confirm provenance. All meat products are created with outdoor reared animals, which supposes the animal in question lead a happy life.
Charcuterie Scottish Rare Beef (Twechar, Glasgow): For more than 20 year, Charcuterie has processed quality beef in a factory at the foot of the Campsie Hills. Scotch Beef has been reared and roamed in this fair Scottish countryside and is entirely traceable from farm to plate. Charcuterie’s business is owned by British farmers committed to protecting the interests of farming, agriculture and sustainable manufacturing within the UK.
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For beef to be classed as “Specially Selected Scotch” it has to have been born, reared, slaughtered and processed in Scotland and sourced from an accredited company. These sites are audited and regulated by Quality Meat Scotland. This is a guarantee that the beef is fully traceable from the farm yard gate to plate. Scottish Beef is renowned for being consistently lean, tender and rich in flavor.
Sara Louise Kakes (Witney, Oxfordshire): Sarah Louise Kakes is a gourmet cake bakery located in Oxfordshire and one of Virgin’s “Best of British” suppliers. The bakery produces consistently sweet and fluffy muffins for the Light Bites menu. All goods are produced using the finest ingredients and are hand-finished to ensure superb quality.
Suffolk Crown Bacon (Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk): Suffolk Crown has been producing Outdoor Reared Smoked Sweet cure Back Bacon in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk since 1984 and the Virgin Trains choice is sourced from English Freedom Foods approved outdoor reared farms. The pork is traditionally tank-cured in sweet brine and left to mature before smoking takes place. The process is overseen by Suffolk Crown’s head curer, Gary Wright, who has over 20 years experience. The bacon is smoked with beech wood for a light smoky flavour and is then carefully sliced and packed for maximum freshness.
Edwards of Conwy Welsh Cumberland Sausage, Conwy, North Wales: Edwards of Conwy supplies Virgin with the Welsh Cumberland sausage found in the Bangers and Mash Evening Meal (I thought that was Irish?) on the London-Chester/North Wales trains. Award-winning Master Sausage Maker Leuan Edwards creates traditional sausages in small batches using Freedom Food-accredited succulent pork shoulder with a special blend of herbs and spices.
Cropwell Bishop Creamery Cheeses (Nottingham): Located in a small village just outside Nottingham, Cropwell Bishop Creamery supplies Virgin with the Shropshire Blue cheese found with the Evening Meal cheese and biscuits selection. The creamery is owned by the Skailes family, as it has been for three generations. Cropwell Bishop’s Shropshire Blue is made from pasteurized milk and has a deep orange-brown natural rind with a sharp, strong flavor and a slightly tangy aroma.
If this sort of thing floats your boat, I recommend you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, an entertaining and informative narrative about eating locally.