Merry Christmas! Yes, I’ve finally emerged from my food coma and have plonked my larger-than-before behind down to actually write again. Apologies for the delay – a resolution for 2015 will be to be more efficient!
I entered my fourth decade earlier this month and decided to mark the occasion by stringing celebrations out for as a long as I could.
On the weekend before my 30th I was lucky enough to go to the Pig on the Beach in Dorset with my family.
This is a beautiful place on the Studland coast which is a 23-room hotel with a hugely popular restaurant.
Once an old manor house owned by an MP in the 19th century, the setting gives you the most stunning views of the sea.
We arrived on a cold, crisp Friday afternoon and knew as soon as we drove up to the building that our stay was going to be special. Fires were blazing, lights twinkled and there was hot mulled cider on offer.
We ate in the hotel’s restaurant on both of our nights there.
The ethos of all of the ‘Pig’ hotels is to try to only use ingredients from within a 25-mile radius. The hotel has a huge kitchen garden and all kinds of salads, herbs, chillies and veg growing in greenhouses.
The menu consists of great British food with lots of meat and pork, obviously, and locally caught fish and shellfish.
Eating in the restaurant for both nights meant we were able to sample a wide range of what was on offer and as there were seven of us, I won’t bore you by going through what everyone ate but here are a few of the highlights:
Tempura oysters with lemon mayonnaise, onion and samphire were absolutely delicious. I’m not usually a fan of deep frying or baking shellfish as I think you can lose the lovely taste of the sea. However, the batter was light and crunchy and the oyster still soft and tender. The menu said each serving included three oysters but they sounded so good, we all upgraded to having half a dozen each. Example 1 of pigging out!
Matt’s charcuterie board was just beautiful to look at and almost too well-presented to eat. As well as pig products, it included braesola, beetroot and some scrummy edible flowers and salad. Literal pigging out!
Risottos always seem so appealing but can often be an error when it comes to managing to enjoy your main course because of how stodgy and rich they can be.
However, this mushroom risotto was the perfect size with huge pieces of fungi and lovely creamy rice.
The two main courses above also went down a treat; the generous portion of halibut with clams, salami (more pig!) spinach was delicious and all cooked to perfection with a mixture of textures and salty and creamy flavours.
The sirloin steak definitely came from a happy cow as I’m told the meat was tender and smooth. In Matt’s words it was “Absolutely amazing, one of the best steaks I’ve ever had!” His plate was clean, he definitely pigged out…
It’s no surprise we ordered desserts really, considering the high standard of the other courses. The cheese board made an appearance on both nights, oops! It had a great selection of hard, soft and goat’s cheeses. The biscuits it came with all had their own distinct flavours and shapes (see the pig above).
Other memorable desserts were the thyme ice-cream which was refreshing and like nothing I’ve ever tasted before and the cocoa meringue.
While I’ve tried to emphasise how good the food was, I have to mention the great service, well-stocked bar and excellent atmosphere generally in the hotel.
The staff were all very young but couldn’t do enough to help and the bedrooms were cosy and comfy with lovely decor and thoughtful touches.
We’re planning to go back in the summer – my only hope then is that they might have some real (pets only) pigs we can stroke!