Image: Jon Lewis/Oxford Mail
February 03 2010
My German grandfather happened to be a pork butcher and had a failsafe way of measuring any local competition. “If their bacon was good, it usually followed that everything else would be too,” he told me.
Many years later, we moved from London to Oxford and were looking, among other things, for a top-quality local butcher. However, it wasn’t until the moment that I sank my teeth into a thick-cut rasher of Fellers smoked back bacon (£17 per kg) that I knew we’d permanently solved at least one of our supply-side problems.
The family-run business is something of an Oxford institution and a 30-year-old mainstay of the famous covered market. Though not enormous in size, the shop and its friendly and expert staff supply an awesome range of locally-sourced organic meats and poultry. Lovers of game will also be in foodie heaven: Fellers provides venison, hare, rabbit, woodcock, snipe, teal, mallard, pheasant and partridge (English and French).
Because Fellers is so popular, you may well find yourself queuing to be served. But, this being Oxford, there’s usually someone interesting and unusual to chat to. Chris Patten, the University’s Chancellor, is something of a regular, as are chef Sophie Grigson and author Philip Pullman. Of course, there’s free local delivery, but it’s much less fun.
When I asked Mike Feller about the secret of his sublime bacon, he told me that there’s no magic formula. “Other than the fact that we source the best possible pork and then smoke, dry-cure and cut it ourselves.” Simple, really.