Hello there! I recognise that it has been a shamefully long time since I last posted (almost two years in fact!) but I have decided to get back to writing and yet again bore everyone senseless with my love of cooking and good food!
The last two years have been rather busy for me….here’s some things you may have missed…
- We bought our first house then proceeded to rip it apart
- Neil almost proposed to our electrician but luckily ended up asking me instead!
- I ate tons of delicious food including a wonderful meal at L’Enclume
- We went on lots of trips – to the beautiful town and foodie haven that is Orford and to the bright lights of New York
- Last but not least, I married my best friend in front of our family and loved ones. We really had the most perfect day ever!
All in all, it has been a rather busy few years which is part of the reason I have neglected my writing! In order to come back with a bang I thought it was about time I shared with you some of the wonderful meals we had on our mini moon at the glorious Pig Near Bath.
I had wanted to visit one of ‘The Pig’ hotels for years so as soon as we set the date for our wedding, I knew ‘The Pig Near Bath’ would be the perfect spot for a relaxing break after the big day. The hotel is a gorgeous country house, sympathetically modernised, in the beautiful Somerset countryside near to both Bath and Bristol. Although the rooms and hotel are comfy, luxurious and beautiful, the real reason I was so keen to visit was the food and, most importantly, the small chain’s ethos. Everything possible is locally sourced, even down to the snacks on offer in the larders in each bedroom to the toiletries (which are made by Bramley by the way and smell divine!) in the bathroom. Something like 80% of the food served in the restaurant is from the hotel’s extensive kitchen gardens and greenhouses, the remaining 20% comes from within a 25 mile radius which is no mean feat! Due to this, the restaurant menu can change several times a day according to whats in season, what’s available and what is at its best!
As it was our ‘mini-moon’ we decided to treat ourselves and opt for a ‘Big Comfy Luxe’ room and we were certainly glad we did….our car was packed full with bits and pieces from the big day so we needed the space! The room was large and spacious, wonderfully peaceful and oh so very comfortable. So much thought has been put into designing the rooms at The Pig and they really are something special! All of the little touches, such as books on kitchen gardens and vegetable growing, a digital radio playing classical music as we walked in and a complimentary bottle of champagne on ice, did not go unnoticed and made us feel very relaxed and at home.
After the torrential rain abated, we took a wander around the hotel grounds to have a nosey at the kitchen garden. It was wonderful to take in the many varieties of fruit and veg. I did wonder whether the garden would be for show but you can tell how much work goes into sustaining the multitudes of hungry customers that journey from miles around to eat at The Pig. Both Neil and myself were astounded at just how extensive the kitchen garden was! For those that want to really spoil themselves, it is possible to stay in ‘The Apple Store’ or ‘The Hide’, both of which are situated in the kitchen garden.
Of course we couldn’t travel all that way without having a meal in the lovely light and airy restaurant situated in the conservatory at the edge of the main house. I loved the fact that herbs and plants were used as decoration on tables and window ledges – at one point our waitress took a few cuttings of rosemary to be used in the kitchen!
After asking for recommendations from our extremely knowledgeable waitress, I opted for ‘James Golding’s home smoked Wester Ross salmon, Somerset cider dressing and pickles’ to start. I adore smoked salmon and eat it at least once a week….I can honestly say this was without a doubt the best smoked salmon I have ever tasted. Neil had serious food envy after trying a mouthful! The sauce was wonderfully sweet which off set the salmon’s saltiness perfectly. Salmon and cider are clearly a match made in heaven!
Neil opted for the ‘Crispy South coast monkfish, toasted fennel mayo and agretti’. I must admit neither of us had any idea what agretti was…it is an Italian vegetable, similar to samphire, that became so popular in the UK after it featured on Masterchef that Agretti out forcing chefs to grow their own stock! The delicate monkfish was perfectly crispy and worked really well with the fennel mayonnaise. Plus…..have you seen the plates?! Beautiful!
Onto the mains! Now it was my turn to get food envy! Neil chose the ‘Free range chicken, swede mash, garden peas and pancetta’. We often cook swede mash in an attempt to cut down on carbs and up our veg intake…if it tasted like The Pig’s version I don’t think either of us would mind so much! The mash was so creamy and tasty, it really was something special. The chicken was lovely and moist and melted in your mouth. All in all, a simple dish but a clear winner! I went for ‘Brookfield Farm English rose veal chop, charred Belton leek, basil and hazelnut pesto’. Although I did enjoy my meal, for me it didn’t quite live up to Neil’s although it was a nice change. I thought the hazelnut pesto was unusual and a bit more bitter than normal pesto but really delicious. The veal was cooked well and the charred leeks were delicious!
There was no doubt we were both going to go the whole hog (well we were at the Pig!) and have three courses each. Neil had the ‘Dark chocolate tart, Longman’s clotted cream and garden redcurrant sauce’ which was so gorgeous rich and silky whilst the redcurrant sauce offered just the right amount of tartness.
I had a ‘Somerset gooseberry and elderflower fool with ginger snap biscuits’. I was really pretty full so this was a really good choice for me as the fool was light and refreshing plus, ginger biscuits are my fave! I loved the presentation too as I think it is so pretty when restaurants decorate their dishes with edible flowers, I think this dish could have looked a bit boring without a pop of colour!
Although we were were both massively full, we couldn’t resist ordering some ‘Piggy Fours’ to take back to the room with us. We didn’t end up eating them until the following day but my word they were lovely….bite sized pieces of all my favourites including handmade fudge, chocolate truffles, blueberry and lemon mini muffins and last but not least coconut ice which was a real throwback to my childhood visits to North Wales!
As we enjoyed the meal on the first night of our mini moon so much, we really couldn’t resist having a cozy night in the bar on the last night of our stay in front of a roaring fire, of course accompanied by more delicious food in the form of some nibbles, otherwise known as ‘Piggy Bits’! We opted for ‘smoked vodka BBQ ribs’, ‘tempura garden greens’ and ‘bacon jam on toast’ before having a few cocktails, a cheeseboard and an obligatory glass of port! For both of us the star of the show was most definately the smoked BBQ ribs……they were so tender, deliciously sweet and sticky with an extra punch of smokiness courtesy of the smoked vodka. We were so in love with the BBQ sauce we raved about it to the staff who kindly gave us the recipe….I cannot wait to recreate the dish at home myself!
After a few too many delicious cocktails in the bar, it was time for a ‘cozy night in’, in other words, a complimentary DVD and popcorn from reception. It is the little touches like this, the Hunter wellies available to borrow from the lobby and the complimentary cocktail kit that welcomed us after a day sightseeing in Bath, that make The Pig so special and welcoming!
Last but not least, I cannot resist saying a few words about the delicious breakfast we were treated to before our long drive home! Several reviews I have read grumble about breakfast not being included in the rather pricey room cost. Perhaps it is a little steep to pay £15 for a cooked breakfast when you are already paying for a top end hotel however, do not let that put you off! The breakfast at The Pig is really pretty wonderful, from numerous varieties of freshly baked bread to brightly coloured compotes, free range eggs from the chicken coop and even cake (cake at breakfast….what a brilliant idea!). Neil and I really made the most of the buffet before having something cooked….of course I couldn’t resist more of that perfectly smoked salmon!
Our meals at The Pig really were wonderful, as were the accompanying wine and bubbles, not to mention the brilliant service! In my opinion, dining at The Pig is really reasonable, particularly considering how local and fresh the wonderful food is and the massive variety of interesting wine on offer. Staying at the hotel really is a lovely treat. Yes, it isn’t cheap but it truly is an unforgettable stay and leaves you feeling relaxed, pampered and very well fed! If you aren’t local to any of the Pig Hotels….it is well worth the trip I am already counting down the days until our first wedding anniversary when we hope to return to another Pig hotel!