French foodies taste Borders luxury lamb

Louise Rennie with Tombuie lamb at Hardiesmill
Louise Rennie with Tombuie lamb at Hardiesmill

Gordon farmers Robin and Alison Tuke launched their new smoked lamb at a top culinary event in France this week.

The Hardiesmill Place foodies and their team at the award-winning Tombuie Smokehouse had just six weeks to come up with new oak-smoked slivers of lamb at the request of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

And earlier this week the world’s best chefs were introduced to the product.

Mr Tuke explained: “The challenge we were given by QMS was to create a completely new product which was ready to eat, could be served at room temperature and was suitable for salads, canapés and starters.

“What we have produced are wisps of oak-smoked lamb, extremely thinly sliced, which give a melt-in-the-mouth blend of flavours.

“So far, taste trials revealed the product is a resounding success but the real test would be when the world’s top food experts got the opportunity to sample it.”

The smokery and beef producers already supply the world-famous Orient Express, the award-winning Chez Roux Greywalls Hotel at Muirfield, Peeblesshire’s Windlestraw Lodge and the Buccleuch Arms in St Boswells, and their products are on sale at the Tebay services farm shop on the M6 in Cumbria.

Mrs Tuke said: “To be asked to create a product by QMS was a great privilege and then to be asked to go to Bocuse d’Or was fantastic.”

Speaking to TheSouthern on Monday, she said: “Michelin-starred chefs from across the world are thrilled about the taste our product – it’s a huge excitement.”

The biennial world chef championship, started in 1987, is regularly described as the Olympics of the culinary world.

The Hardiesmill and Tombuie team – the Tukes, master butcher Lee Bennett, his assistant Amy Lees and admin assistant Louise Rennie – are not new to the honour for in 2009 Hardiesmill was invited to provide the beef for the event finals.

The Tukes bought 480-acre Hardiesmill Place in 2001 and produce their own beef from their 200-strong grass-fed Aberdeen Angus herd, seam-cutting to use as much of the carcass as possible, resulting in the company having the largest range of steaks (11) in Scotland.

After a visit to the farm, local MSP John Lamont said: “This could be a very significant event in the development of quality Borders exports. The Bocuse d’Or really is the pinnacle of the food world and it is not uncommon for the competing teams to have a budget of up to £1million to spend.”

On Tuesday and yesterday, 24 of the world’s top chefs competed while the QMS stand offered smoked lamb carpaccio, along with Tombuie smoked leg of lamb and Hardiesmill carpaccio-cut smoked Aberdeen Angus beef to VIPs and media watching and judging the Bocuse D’Or.

The Tukes are also selling the new wisps at Kelso, Peebles, Alnwick and Berwick farmers’ markets.