Matt Layfield’s cattle are head down, slowly walking through the thick grass, grazing quietly. They are a calm mob, well used to Matt walking through the herd, checking their condition.
They are crossbreeds: half Angus, half Limousin, a large, fine muscled French breed. “These cattle produce really fine-grained meat,” says Matt. The animals free range on the rich pasture at Greenhill, a farming area near Malmsbury. Matt and his Dad, Ron, also raise prime lambs on the farm. They sell their beef and lamb through the family butcher shop, The Daylesford Meat Co., in the heart of Daylesford.
You won’t see Matt in the butcher’s shop very often. He’s either on the farm or at the cattle market, buying and selling livestock. But he knows quality when he sees it, and the proof is in the meat cabinet. Great dry-aged rib-eye steaks, dappled with fine veins of marbled fat, making for a superb tender steak. Plump lamb cutlets ready for the grill. Lamb roasts on the bone. In-store you’ll be looked after by manager Paul Tammer, the cheerful Di Beaumont, and smallgoods butcher Matt Peabody. He spends his days spicing and seasoning ground pork and beef to make their fine range of smallgoods. On any day, you’ll find him making pork, fennel and almond terrine, duck and walnut terrine, or French country terrine. Out back is a smoker in which he adds a delicious layer of red gum smoke over his bacon and hams. He makes great kabana, perfectly spiced chorizo, delicious smoked cacciatore, and cheese kransky stuffed with Emmental cheese.
The team also makes fresh sausages such as pork, leek and chilli, beef, sweet cherry and plum, and the sausage recognised by the international Slow Food movement, the Swiss Italian bull boar. This is a sausage unique to the Daylesford Macedon Ranges region. Swiss Italian immigrants first made them during the gold rush. They are a blend of beef and pork, red wine, garlic, and spices. Lovely slowly grilled over coals, the seasoned meat inside also makes an excellent base for an aromatic ragu to serve with gnocchi. Originally from the south of England, Matt Peabody also makes a very Cornish pasty and cold pork pies, perfect with a pint of local IPA.
This is all beautifully displayed in the recently renovated store, all stainless steel, dark tiles, and an old-fashioned wooden chopping block. “We wanted to tell people how good our meat is, so we completely remodelled the shop to reflect the quality of what we sell. Pound for pound,” he continues, “we reckon our beef, lamb, house-made smallgoods and pastries, along with the pork and chicken, is some of the best in the country.”
Photography by Richard Cornish
Matt wholesales to the region, and if you’re eating at a restaurant in town, you are more than likely eating Greenhills meat. Daylesford Meat Co. is open Monday to Saturday.