Philippa James visits H Greaves butchers in Upholland where tradition is key

PUBLISHED: 12:10 17 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:19 20 February 2013

Clare, Anthony and Robert Greaves

Clare, Anthony and Robert Greaves

Food and drink writer Philippa James has a butchers at a traditional Upholland business where tradition is key Photography by KIRSTY THOMPSON

When sampling the proposed main course for this years Food and Drink Awards, at The Midland Hotel in Manchester, we judges all took a taste of the sirloin, sat back, looked at each other and said: Wow, thats stunning!

A short time later I met Anthony Greaves at his Upholland butchers shop and commented on the quality of his meat and he informed me that the beef had, most likely, come from land next to The Inn at Whitewell, this impressed me knowing which particular farmer had supplied meat weeks earlier.

Anthony left school in 1958 and started to work full time for his father, Harry, although he had worked before then, as a young boy, delivering meat around the village on a push bike, with an old-fashioned wicker basket. And his grandchildren, Harry, who carries customers bags, and who can already make burgers, and Katie and Lucy, who help make sandwiches in his daughters outside catering operation Clares Kitchen, based at the same premises are rapidly becoming the fourth generation of the business.

Anthony and his wife Catherine have three children, Clare, Robert who is in overall charge of the Upholland site and Christopher, who is over at the new premises at Carr Hall Home and Garden in Wilpshire.

The couple are retired but on the day I met them Anthony had started in the office at 5.30am, and Catherine was busy with paperwork. Tenacity, hard work and sheer determination are words closely associated with many of our countys businesses and theres no shortage of any those qualities here.

Despite the appalling weather of the last two winters, they have never missed a delivery, even to London where they supply the likes of Bentleys, Selfridges Aubaine, and The Stafford. Closer to home restaurants such as The Ribble Valley Inns, Hastings, Master McGraths and Stanley House, where I recently tried their superb pork T bone, were mentioned.

The deliveries have changed quite a bit since the time when, as with many butchers, Greaves would trundle around the villages in all weather, be it baking hot or freezing cold, selling meat out of the back of their Bedford van it had a sun canopy, for the very hot days, but no refrigeration at all! Youd not get way with things like that now, Anthony laughed

What is keeping Greaves so successful, in challenging economic times? Here is a business that is still rooted in an orders book, until backed up on the computer, they have an answerphone between 5pm and 8pm but from then until 1am someone takes the orders from restaurants, hotels and other businesses, giving a dedicated, personal service.

They have a website but Anthony admitted: Were a bit traditional, really. We tend to stick to plain, old-fashioned cuts and we dont cover our meat in brightly coloured sauces, or offer stir fries. We make our own sausages and black puddings and cure a lot of the bacon ourselves. We have recently teamed up with, to provide meat for their Greengrocer Boxes.

As I went to leave, I popped into the shop where butcher Tommy Crompton, who has worked there for more than 30 years, picked out some beautiful rib-eye steaks for me. He said: The only way to tenderise your meat properly is to age it, on the bone. Anyone who tells you different is telling you porky pies, you know!

Philippas flogging it!

I recently did some cookery filming for the BBC which will be used as an insert item in the Flog It! antiques programme. The filming was done at Samlesbury Hall and although it has now been edited I dont yet have a date for its broadcast, but do watch out for the Lancashire episodes, coming soon. I felt incredible pride in representing our county as the first outdoor cookery slot that they have had in ten series.

Flog It! Thursday 16th November at 4.30p.m., on BBC2, and on BBC i-Player

The print version of this article appeared in the November 2011 issue of Lancashire Life

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