I know, I know. You can’t move in the cardiff blogosphere at the moment for want of posts singing the praises of Hangfire Smokehouse, the ‘low and slow’ BBQ pop-up success story that has taken Cardiff by storm. Well I apologise in advance if I bore you, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon. I have a good reason, though. Let me explain.
I’d heard amazing things about the Hangfire girls, Sam and Shauna. After jacking in high-flying jobs in London to travel the US of A, they started recreating the dishes from their travels back home in their own backyard. With months of hard work, blood, sweat and tears, they slowly became the talk of the town, the stuff of Cardiff legend; their pop-ups creating queues out the door, their dishes photographed all over Instagram and Twitter, BBQ food selling out week on week.
I watched with great interest. At the time, I was living in London and surrounded by awesome food all of the time, but I had never seen a buzz back home like the one around the Hangfire girls. Family and friends visited one by one and reported back to me that the food was indeed, out of this world. My boyfriend began nagging me about paying them a visit – he spent 12 weeks traveling America a few years back, and many of the places which inspire Hangfire’s menus were included in his trip too. I was being bombarded with love for the Smokehouse. But I resisted.
So what was the hold up? Well, I’ll be honest, I just didn’t do my research. I had a peek at Hangfire’s twitter, I tried to find a menu on their website, I read other people’s blogs. Nowhere could I find a mention of how the meat was being sourced, except for the word ‘local’. I shrugged and gave up, figuring that it wasn’t for me, and it wasn’t a fit for the blog. Then, after the first week in my new job, I was taken to Hangfire at The Lansdowne for dinner by my other half’s parents and had to succumb to it’s deliciousness regardless (I’m a firm believer in eating ethically, but I am also a firm believer in not being a difficult arse when it comes to group meals, and usually go for the veggie options, if possible). It was Easter weekend and as a result, I had the most incredible pulled lamb with an apricot chutney; it was bloody gorgeous.
Plagued with guilt for chowing down on something ‘naughty’ but also completely smitten by the flavours in what I’d scoffed, I headed online and began digging anew for info on Hangfire Smokehouse’s ethical credentials. And then, as if by magic, I found an epic, in depth, behind-the-scenes look at the Hangfire Smokehouse by fellow Welsh blogger The Plate Licked Clean. This line in particular caught my eye and sent a grin spreading across my face: “If you are going to go to the trouble of ensuring your meat is free range, and of sourcing everything you cook from within a 20mile radius… then it stands to reason that you will do all you can to ensure your customers get what they want.” I instantly tweeted back to check that my eyes had not deceived me, and received a quick reply that yep, everything that the Hangfire girls use is of the highest quality.
Their butchers are The Farmers Pantry in Llantwit Major and Barretts of Rhoose, and both source local, free range, high welfare meat. Woohoo!
I did tweet the Hangfire girls to mention that their ethical credentials should be prominent on the menus, and they replied to say that in fact, they are. In my defence, I was very, very merry on ‘new job drinks’ when I visited and may have missed this, but it was embarrassing all the same – sorry ladies! Having said that, although I know that I am in the minority in wanting to know so much about where my food comes from and how it’s been reared, I firmly believe that restaurants and food producers who are doing everything right should SHOUT about it, not bury it deep in the rest of the chatter on their website. There are after all, so many pretenders in this game who are doing so much less, but still giving out all the marketing puff and reaping the rewards.
To summarise, this blog post is a bit of a thank you. A big thanks to Hangfire Smokehouse for doing what they do, and more importantly, doing it as ethically as they can which means it tastes better, is better for the animals, and I can enjoy it too! It’s also a big thank you to The Plate Licked Clean for helping me discover that fact by writing that awesome, in-depth review, which is here again in case you missed it – do check it out if you’re really into your BBQ.
Image courtesy of Hangfire Smokehouse.