Air-dried yak on the menu as Dorset meets Shangri-la
Well-heeled trekkers in one of the world’s most remote tourist destinations – the Shangri-la prefecture in China’s Yunnan province – could soon be snacking on air-dried yak along with Western-style guanciale and pancetta.
The couple behind adventure holiday firm Caravan Liotard have invited David and Karen Richards of Capreolus Fine Foods to their home in “the gateway to the Himalayas”, to teach them to make European charcuterie for their guests.
Caravan Liotard was set up in 2010 by Dorset-born gourmet caterer Phoebe Osborn and her French husband Constantin de Slizewicz. It offers arduous treks, accompanied by a caravan of packhorses, with glamping and three-course candlelit dinners in tents.
The couple also run a restaurant, The Flying Tiger, in the near-mythical old town of Shangri-la, and another at Farm Liotard, the traditional Tibetan house that is the base for their treks.
Osborn told FFD: “I do most of the cooking for the caravans and the farm guests. But we want to push the standard of food up to the next level and I decided we should start making our own charcuterie.
“I also have a dream of helping everyone in my village by buying meat from the animals they rear on the grassland and up in the mountains.”
Back in the UK earlier this year, Osborn searched for a West County producer to work with, and identified Capreoulus, which has won the Taste of the West champion cured meat trophy four times.
A pack of samples from Capreolus went down a storm with de Slizewicz’s French family, and now the charcutiers will be flying out to China to teach Osborn how to make her own air-dried meats.
“Phoebe is getting two pigs slaughtered,” said David Richards, “and we plan to make guanciale, coppa, air-dried loin, pancetta, salamis and maybe even some ham. I’ve talked to Graham Waddington at [air-dried ham specialist] Native Breeds and he said the humidity at high altitude in Shangri-la should be absolutely perfect for air-drying meat.”
Osborn added: “Chinese people are now into their wine, so David, Karen and I need to come up with flavours they can enjoy with it.
“We’ll try yak meat, for something competely new, and pork with flavours like Sichuan pepper and local wine.”