Craftsmanship. Worth paying the price?

Craftsmanship is never unfashionable“.

That statement is precisely on point, on so many levels and it was a comment I heard whilst listening to this recent fascinating BBC piece on Lobb shoes*.

* (And at less than £4k a pair, that must rank as a bargain, right?)

And then there’s this shot via one of our few female butchers, Charlotte of the eponymous “Charlotte’s Butchery” in Gosforth reading about Charlie of Flat Iron

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…and then seeing the quiet smile on Charlie’s face as he looks at that beautifully crafted ironwork; a joy to behold. As is the beautiful rack of meat that he’s about to char & cook over those coals.

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We’ve an old nut-cracker, “inherited” from Val’s dad and probably even further back than that. It’s the most basic of implements possible to imagine for this task. But it really does prove the old “form follows function” saw to be true. The lovely patina of age smudged by different fingers as it’s been used over the years, the little teeth to hold the nuts whilst cracking, the rivets holding the arms in place, sawn off, barely visible now. A wonderful item. Simple, no frills. Perfect for the job it does.

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Yesterday I came back with these two bargains — one a santoku and one a paring knife — hot off the forges by the boys (three of them) at Blenheim Forge (not forgetting Connie who was so incredibly helpful but doesn’t, yet, hammer away at bright red glowing heated pieces of metal).

The forge entrance whispers honied promises of a cave of dark and arcane mysteries…

 

…leading firstly to the old, old mechanical punch they use for the Blenheim Forge stamp (into hot or warm metal)…

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…then tooled in many arcane & dwarf-taught ways, using these mediaeval torture instruments…

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…via these intensely hot furnaces…

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…and the home-made grinding wheels; you lay over them and as cooling, lubricating water gushes onto the stones, you slowly, noisily grind the knives whilst at the same time, silently praying that these huge blocks of stone, travelling at up to 60mph, don’t suddenly shatter and take out you and the rest of the team in the forge…

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…and having managed not to die from any of the potentially lethal encounters possible up to this point, you can finally take the knives into the dark, warm, womb-like cavern at the back where the finishing touches are applied, inc. the wood handles and ferrules.

The ferrule – or ‘cap’ where the blade meets the handle, protecting the wood from moisture and splitting – is sustainably sourced black buffalo horn and in the case of my two blades, uses walnut as the chosen wood…

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…resulting in these two beauties. The slight imperfections in the handles (where they accept the tang) aren’t visible in these photos and — as well as meaning they were priced at a huge bargain discount (thanks James!) — although they have no detrimental effect on use or longevity of them either, actually make them for me. The wabi-sabi  of knives if you will…

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A great morning; fun, informative and hugely interesting and tempting. I’m seriously thinking about getting into knife making. The whole thing, forge, anvil, grinders, heavy duty metal cutters, the lot.

Thanks James, Jon and Connie. And if you get a chance to pop along to the railway arches right alongside Peckham Rye station don’t hesitate to go in and have a look.

And finally? Finally, we’d also recommend highly the food served by the enthusiastic team at Honest Burger

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with a great menu…

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located a short, 1 minute walk on the way to the Blenheim Forge — this was their pork & egg, with meat gravy and home-made beans, brunch snack I sampled. Finest kind. Finest kind.

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About Salute The Pig

Charcuterie, smoking, curing, brining and all things porcine. Brought to you from deepest, darkest Cambs, England by Chris Bulow. In the smoker or in the kitchen….

Salutate porcum!

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