Stafford Collection Magazine Autumn 2022 - Flipbook - Page 63
Like so many of the most pleasurable things
in life, the story of how the reputation of
the Forest of Bowland’s natural larder
came into public consciousness beyond
the county lines of Lancashire begins with
a certain James Paul McCartney.
The most famous bass player in the world had only
stopped being a Beatle for a few months when his early
solo single Uncle Albert reached number one in the USA.
To the probable confusion of Stateside listeners, he
references a uniquely Lancastrian dish on the track when
he sings the lines, ‘Admiral Halsey notified me. He had to
have a berth or he couldn't get to sea, I had another look
and I had a cup of tea and butter pie.’
McCartney was referring to a dish originating in
Preston, just on the fringes of the Forest of Bowland region.
“There were traditionally many Catholics in Preston and
they couldn’t eat meat on Friday,” explains Katie Wilson,
founder of Bowland And Bay who organise small scale
food and drinks tours around some of the 150 plus artisan
producers who live and work in this rural corner of the North
West between Manchester and the Lake District.
“So, to get around this requirement, the butchers of
the town would fill the pie with dauphinoise style slices of
potato and onion then add beef dripping to the pastry. It
makes the pie turn the most glorious golden brown colour.
When I took a tour of London chefs to the region recently,
they all loved the high end restaurant food but claimed
the butter pie was the absolute highlight!”
Katie, a 51 year old Lancashire native, has spent her
whole career as a food buyer. Excited by the food scene
she encountered in Eugene, Oregon after a year studying
American History there in 1991, she returned to London to
become a buyer for the Majestic Wines chain and then
the National Trust, where she met numerous producers
across Britain making everything from sustainably
sourced chocolates to locally produced gins.
Now back in the Forest of Bowland, Katie doesn’t hold
back when it comes to extolling the gourmet virtues of
“The variety and provenance of the produce here and
the amount of independent, entrepreneurial suppliers
make the Forest of Bowland not just the most exciting
gastronomic hotspot in the UK, but also on the planet,”
“I was blown away by Oregon on an excitement level
as a food buyer when I was there in the 1990s. I always
wanted a scene with that level of creativity creativity here
— and now we have it.”
But first, a disclaimer for first time visitors. The Forest
of Bowland isn’t a forest at all. The ‘forest’ actually refers
to ancient hunting rights that have existed for centuries
in the region, most of which is owned by the Duchy of
Lancaster or, as he’s more commonly known, the King.
Instead of verdant forests, Bowland comprises 300
square miles of meadows, streams, tapering country
lanes, heather strewn moorland, bogs, farmsteads and
villages so untouched by modernity that you feel Thomas
Hardy might ride in on a horse driven carriage at any
moment after a long trip up from Wessex.