It’s hard not to feel autumnal as you walk up the gravel track among the firs and the conifers, pine cones scattered over the dewy lawn. Despite me getting overexcited at a sign for the ‘Kitchen Garden’, it is FREEZING, and the smell of a woodburning fire entices us indoors, enveloping us in warmth.
The Pig in Brockenhurst is a small hotel with a focus on food. Nearly everything on the menu is grown on site or foraged-for nearby, so whether it comes from the forest or the coast, you know it’s as fresh as possible.
The interior is traditional with an informal twist. Boars’ heads frame the walls and colourful crystal glasses are lined up on antique dressers, but the menus tied up in garden string and napkin rings made from newspaper make for a ‘homemade’ feel. The sun-filled conservatory with bright, mis-matching floor tiles covered in potted plants is reminiscent of my Grandpa’s potting shed, though probably a bit more elegant.
But the real reason behind The Pig’s popularity, is the food. Their 25 mile menu (the idea being that most of the produce comes from within a 25 mile radius) boasts lamb and pork from Romsey, fresh Lymington crab and tomatoes from the Isle of Wight. All the herbs and most of the veg come straight from the Kitchen Garden, hence one section of the menu being called ‘Mostly Picked This Morning’. Try the curried cauliflower and Brocks Eggs – you won’t be disappointed – and whatever you do, don’t leave The Pig without trying some pork, or at least some crackling and apple sauce! The ‘Tomahawk’ pork chop is so flavoursome and you can mop up the sauce with a chunk of warm bread and Garden Herb-Infused Oil.
The Pig manages to combine simple, natural ingredients with an elegant, quirky touch that leaves your tastebuds tingling for hours. If, like me, you dream of roasting parsnips and boiling beetroot fresh from your vegetable patch, head to The Pig for inspiration. And while you’re at it, grab an armchair in front of the fire, and order yourself some ‘Piggy Bits’ (how do you expect me to dream about my Kitchen Garden, when I haven’t even tried the pea and ham hummus yet?!).