Cannon and Cannon @ Friends of Ham review
Once you’ve got a degree in gin, where do you go? Okay, so tell a lie – I attended Old Tom’s Gin Kitchen a few weeks back to sample their goods and received a quite brilliant lesson on the history of booze. I feel that sort of makes me an expert.
Well, imagine my delight when I was invited along to Friends of Ham on the eve of an almighty stag-do in Palma to attend British Charcuterie and Beer School. I was happier than a pig in… you know, mud.
Run by Cannon and Cannon, who have been at the forefront of British Charcuterie since 2010, I knew it was going to be much more joyous than those dreaded maths lessons back in the day.
Priding themselves on meats sourced from free range or wild cattle, the majority of which are rare breed, here you have company that can more than hold its own against countries like Spain or Italy, who are somewhat more prolific when it comes to charcuterie.
I arrived to the sold-out event and joined a small table of bloggers, who were happily snapping away at the table of meat. Consisting of six very different types of produce, each dish was to be accompanied by a carefully selected craft ale.
Now, call me ungrateful, but I usually order wine in Friends of Ham, however my cravings for a large glass of red soon disappeared when I tasted the beers on offer.
The Wild Beer Co. Bibble is a fruity concoction from Somerset, consisting of tropical fruits and citrus flavours; it paired just perfectly with the Woodside Lamb, which was marinated in honey and rosemary.
The tasty Lamb Merguez originated from Wales, but the recipe of cumin, paprika and lemon zest took inspiration from North Africa. This was paired with another fruity ale, Hickey the Rake, which was a hoppy tipple harking from Newcastle.
Next came one of the standout meats on the menu – the Fennel Salami, which was seasoned with wild garlic from the Isle of Wight. It really tasted unlike any cured meat I’ve sampled before and was complemented by the Redchurch Sauvage Blanc.
This London ale comes served in a wine bottle and for good reason. Consisting of crushed white grapes, coriander seeds, foraged bay leaves (so very hipster) and saison yeast, it is aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels and is an eye-watering 9.2%. Highly recommended.
One dish I’d not been looking forward to as much was the Herb Biltong. Looking like burnt beef jerky, what it lacks visually it more than makes up for in the taste stakes. Heralding from London, this South African style air dried beef, seasoned with parsley, coriander seeds and garlic, offered so many different flavours.
Initially tasting like a really good quality piece of beef you’d expect at a Sunday roast, the seasoning soon kicks in and offers a whole new experience. This was paired with the Buxton Barrel Aged Double Axe ale, which was incredibly drinkable given the fact it was 10.4% alcohol.
Last, but by no means least was the Smoked Belly Pork, which was a rare breed harking from Wales. Rich in fat, it looked a little bit like lardon, but was absolutely delicious. The Kernel Imperial Brown Stout was perfect for this dish, with its hints of chocolate, vanilla and cream flavours; the perfect way to end a perfect evening.
As a regular at Friends of Ham, I already knew I’d be in good hands, however Cannon and Cannon really exceeded my expectations. Being perfectly honest, I was unaware that Britain was even in the charcuterie game and so to find that they are actually better at it than their European rivals was something of a revelation.
Check out the Cannon and Cannon website here, where you can purchase their produce and purchase tickets for events.