Having moved to South East London a few months ago, I was beginning to wonder where in Peckham I might buy some decent meat. There are reams of Halal butchers along Rye Lane that serve a community, but aren't really for me. I've tried the lamb countless times, and it doesn't matter how long I cook it. It always comes out tough and flavour-low. There WAS a tiny butcher on Peckham Park Road but I thought it must have gone. Last time I lived down here, was a long long time ago, and the call for good meat seemed unlikely. My father alerted me to Buntings again, promising me it was still there and even sold rabbit, and so I headed down today, in search of Pheasants for Sundays lunch. It was a real treat. The two brothers that run the joint (third generation) were friendly and more than passionate, almost religious, about butchery (which is always attractive). We talked for ages and I managed to spend a mere £16 on 3 different meats. Their selection is admirable and inexpensive.
And like a really good butcher, they had lots of advice for me. Going meat shopping in a place like this becomes an event in its own right (and although I love a good bean supper, makes me very sorry for vegetarians). And recipes are allowed to evolve and change with a good butcher's advice. The shop is more Old Kent Road than Peckham town, and I am told that their customers come from all over London. Buntings has the compulsory nostalgic awning and the window is piled with all sorts of meats: venison (I'm already thinking what to stew with this), french hens, their own sausages (the lamb and mint looked really fat and good) and most of all, it's piled high with atmosphere. An old guy came in after me. Obviously they all new his name. He ordered half a dozen eggs and some lamb chops. The three men chatted away about the football and he waxed lyrical about the eggs ("Jumbo! Once you've had these love, you'll never want a supermarket egg again")
So, in the oven I have a hunk of Buntings Belly pork (though we had a good debate about whether to use belly or shoulder) slowly cooking, to make Nigel Slater's Rillettes. And in the fridge I have a massive British Chicken, quartered for me by the brothers, ready to make a moroccan casserole on Sunday for Mark and Lucy. And also, inspired by the egg man, I have a couple of lamb chops for supper tonight, nestling in oil and salt and pepper with a little near frozen garden rosemary. Supporting places like this means they will be there next time you go shopping. The nights are drawing in, lets eat meat!