Very few of us get the opportunity to dine on meat, poultry, fish and produce that grew up in the back yard (or very near it) on anything like a regular basis. Chef James Golding offers that opportunity for those who patronise The Pig, where the menu consists almost entirely of local and seasonal products. So local, in fact, that much of it comes straight from the kitchen garden attached to the restaurant.
The Pig is located about a mile from the village of Brockenhurst, right in the heart of the New Forest National Park in Hampshire, and it is not just any old Pig; it’s a cozy, charming, slightly disheveled inn as well as a unique dining venue, taking full advantage of the bounty – and the ambiance – provided by the 1,000 year old forest that surrounds it.
Golding, whose credentials include Caprice, J. Skeekey and most recently Soho House in New York, doesn’t look the typical posh chef – he sports a Mohawk, tattoos and a wide, infectious smile as he explains his commitment to changing the relationship between food producers and consumers. Of course he has immense resources in the area, from both the forest and the sea, and his closest assistants are his forager and his gardener.
Menus can change almost by the minute, subject to what the kitchen gardener proclaims to be at its peak or what the forager turns up in his scouting excursions. Golding says that around 80% of all ingredients are sourced within 25 miles of The Pig. The New Forest Marque scheme, another unique food initiative, incorporates stamps to designate food and drink products grown or produced in local gardens, fields or waters.
Even if he needs to resort to out-of-area products, Golding adds a New Forest twist; Irish salmon is marinated in honey from bees that feed on local borage or heather, producing single estate honey, and smoked in 100% Hampshire oak with sawdust from a local mill.