Last year @bmcboy and I celebrated an important milestone in our marriage so I was looking for something special to celebrate. One of the options was to have lunch for friends and family in a country hotel. A colleague mentioned a place she had just visited and loved and the name struck me as an unlikely name for an idyllic retreat: The Pig. Fast forward a year and I receive an invite from Jori White PR to visit the very same Pig hotel to savour their locally sourced food and meet the chef. Obviously, I did not need to think about it twice!
|Welcome to the Pig|
Located in Brockenhurst, at the edge of the New Forest and an hour and half by train from Waterloo, The Pig Hotel is the flagship location of a small boutique chain, which includes the Pig in the Wall in Southampton, “representing a new style of country hotel; The Pig is a restaurant with rooms; the focus is very much on the food – uncomplicated and simple British garden food, true to the micro seasons and influenced by the forest, with the emphasis squarely on fresh, clean flavours.
The Pig is based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. What cannot be grown in THE PIG’S walled kitchen garden, or in its extensive vegetable and fruit beds, is sourced locally, within 25 miles. This immediacy from garden to plate is The Pig’s trademark.” (source: the Pig’s factsheet)
The hotel is very close to the station making it easy to reach. We arrived to be welcomed by a glass of bubbly by Sophie and Jen (both part of the company marketing and events teams) who had lunch with us. I am sure they do this quite often, entertain a bunch of city slickers / food bloggers but they made us feel extremely welcome and I really enjoyed the company which included @wilkes and @foodifancy.
The dining room is beautiful: colourful mismatched floor tiles, a log fire going, bright conservatory ceiling and rustic, chunky wooden tables.
We shared some interesting fruity cocktails (one of them had the wonderful lemony aroma of verveine) and some starters, aptly called ‘Piggy Bits’. The mini scotch eggs were the best I have ever had, with melt in the mouth ham hock and runny tiny yolks.
|Mini Scotch Eggs|
The rest of the food was just as delightful. Each dish carefully plated with full colours and flavours almost as if to recreate on the plate the lush English countryside: green gardens, flowers, plump vegetables and perfumed herbs.
I had a Risotto with home cured ham and crispy onions, al dente and light with the right amount of saltiness from the meat. I did not order a pig dish for my main, wanting to enjoy a Portland crab salad with chips, and I am glad I did as crabs are sustainable choice of sea food and this was fresh and enjoyable.
Dessert.. ah we could not miss it – I ordered Blackberry mousse with roasted pears, despite not liking pears. These were divine, small crunchy slices of fruit, a light and pretty looking purple mousse with fresh poached blackberries, a dessert eaten without guilt. Almost.
|Blackberry mousse, pears|
After lunch and before making our way back to London we met James Golding (Le Caprice, Soho House New York), a young and passionate Head Chef that each morning decides what to put on the menu based on what is available in the hotel’s garden. And what garden that is!
We saw the hand made smoker cabin, where salmon was hanging and being smoked, built with recycled and up-cycled materials. We visited the outdoor dining area with wood burning oven which must be a fabulous place to enjoy a summer’s evening. We walked through the herb garden, lush and full of aromas (i discovered grapefruit mint!), we peeped into the green houses where all sorts of tomatoes and chilies and strange fruit grow (even a watermelon). Credit to the team of three full time gardeners, their work is seriously amazing.
We then met the animals, all running free and leading a happy life (well until they become food). Chickens, hens, quails, crayfish and of course pigs: Coi Coi and Tamworth, quietly munching through the muddy field and not paying us the slightest attention.
I had a fantastic day at the Pig – the quality of the food was excellent, the atmosphere one of relax and calmness despite the place being packed full on a wednesday lunchtime. James and everyone at the hotel made me feel very welcome and I cannot wait to take my family, @bmcboy and our pooch (as they have a dog friendly room!) back to the Pig.
For more information:
The Pig Hotel
Address: Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QL
Tel: 0845 0779 494
From £129 per room excluding breakfast
I was a guest of Jory White PR and the Pig. Opinions are my own.