27 June 2012 By Billy Hawkins
The day of our talk at The Pig’s kitchen garden arrived and whilst the weather looked doubtful, we remained hopeful and the rain thankfully held off. As guests arrived we were greeted with freshly brewed coffee and delicious home made pastries all served on a stylish large bark board - at this point we all knew we were in for a treat!
James Golding, Head Chef and Ollie Hutson, Head Gardner started their talk in their Alitex Greenhouse which was heaving with produce.
There were also some experimental crops including Kaffir Lime Trees, Madeiran Sweet Potatoes, Cinnamon Vines, (apparently their tubers and 4ft long roots have a cinnamon aroma for cooking), and even Sea Kale. The Sea Kale is grown on the bottom bench of their greenhouse with dark sheeting to block out the light. We were encouraged to taste, and really it is like juicy celery that tastes of asparagus. They haven’t quite got the salt flavours as those on the shore but still scrummy. Before you go out and pick your own Sea Kale to grow at home please don’t – seeds are readily available online.
The crops are seasonally endless at the Pig; the greenhouse is surrounded by beds with further beds in the walked garden, over the wall they have poly-tunnels and fruit cages. Crops are wide and varied as you would imagine – white strawberries, pine berries white with red seeds that taste like pineapple, strawberry spinach, red celery with a really intense flavour that slightly numbs your tongue, more tomato varieties then you can imagine. More standard crops include Cavaolo Nero, sea beats, artichokes, garlic, broad beans... The list goes on. The fruit cages are filled with currants, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries (which they plant garlic next to as a companion plant to detract saw fly) and even Kiwis. It is thrilling to know that every crop in the garden started in their Alitex greenhouse.
The Pigs ethos is to use local food and they really do try to keep their menu ingredients sourced from within 25 miles. They are limited with space so against their wishes, they have to seek produce from beyond their garden. They have their own smokery which they built themselves from an old shed; it is well used, smoking around 20 sides of salmon a week. A local butcher supplies all their meat and has worked closely with James to create ‘bespoke,’ charcuterie for The Pig. Everything that is produced and grown at The Pig is done with an artisan’s touch and a creative flare. James’s ability to work with this myriad of ingredients is phenomenal – quite a few of us from the talk stayed on for lunch, the temptation as overwhelming and - well it would be rude not to!
James and Ollie are always happy to answer questions so if you are visiting The Pig and walking around the gardens feel free to ask questions and they also encourage sampling, but not foraging! For more information and booking at The Pig click here.
If you want to recreate a The Pig at home Ollie highly recommends The Real Seed Catalogue.
We’d like to thank everyone at The Pig for making the morning such a magical event.