Following Friday's gushing post about the Anchor & Hope's ox cheek, I jumped on my bike early on Saturday morning and headed for Farmer Sharp at Borough Market. I desperately wanted to buy and cook ox cheek.
V and I were having guests for dinner on Saturday night. V wanted to cook a forerib, but I had my heart set on convincing her that a slow cooked ox cheek would be vastly superior.
We locked up our bikes and approached Andrew Sharp of Farmer Sharp. I asked if he had any ox cheek. With a northerner's twinkle in his eye he advised he could give me "plenty of cheek, but none of it from an ox."
According to Sharp, the reason for this is still the BSE legislation. Although some ox cheek could be supplied in the UK, he understood that to do so required certain FSA approvals and separate abattoirs for the ox's head - and these requirements make it uneconomical to do so. He concluded that if the Anchor & Hope is selling ox cheek, it must be sourced from France.
I don't propose to wade through the BSE legislation to confirm Sharp's views on the law. I do know that cuts of beef which are most closely associated with the cow's nervous system tissue - brain, spinal cord, cheek, etc - are the most infectious parts of a cow with BSE and the law requirs most of these cuts to be destroyed when cows are slaughtered. I'm also aware that there is mostly uniform BSE legislation thoroughout Europe, however, derogations are permitted accross jurisdictions, so that what must be destroyed in the UK on slaughter need not be destroyed in France on slaughter.
Looks like Hugh F-W can hold off publishing ox cheek recipes for a while.