Sunday lunch is something of a tradition on Burn Farm, the Ware family home. Not surprising, as the Wares are at the top of their game, specialising in new season lamb known for its tender texture and excellent flavour.
‘I can't share any cooking secrets as my wife does that side of things,' says Michael Ware, ‘but you really can't beat roast lamb and mint sauce.'
Michael's forte is being out in the field, producing well-bred lambs fed on more than 300 acres of lush pastures, thanks to the county's distinctive red soil. The lambs are protected from harsh weather in their earliest days. ‘We've had wet weather this year — and we've kept the lambs in barns for about 10 days to get them strong. When you get them outside, they soon get used to it.'
In mild East Devon, you tend to expect longer, sunnier summers, regular rainfall which produces richer grass, and temperatures two or three degrees higher than the rest of the country.
Adds Michael, ‘Most lambs are born in March and April, but the clement weather here means ours are born as early as January, making Burn Farm new season lamb available as early as March.'
New season lamb is renowned for its tenderness and sweet taste, derived from its spring grass diet and young age. Rearing contented lambs may sound like a rural idyll, but it's hard work.
‘Lambing season is incredibly busy. You're talking late nights and early starts seven days a week. But it's satisfying producing fit and healthy lambs — and happy ewes. That's when you know you've done everything right.'
And to drink
Finest Ribera del Duero, 2005.
A Spanish red wine with wild bramble fruit aromas leading to blackberry flavours and touches of spiced oak.