The Pig at Combe is a wonderfully quintessential country venue, based out towards Honiton. In fact, The Pig Group is a small group of hotels that prefer to call themselves restaurants with rooms and are driven by the gardener, forager and chef at each venue. With plenty of produce from local land and it’s own gardens as well a 25 mile ethos for the items not immediately on their doorstep, it has a reputation for championing excellent local food in a relaxing environment.
They have recently started a “Chef Meets Sommelier” series of events, and I was delighted to be invited along to experience one for myself, with a theme of game.
The events are held in The Folly, a beautifully simple and rustic building, that delivers big on impact; it’s a wonderful venue for private hire or for their pizza sessions in their woodfired oven. A brick structure, wooden tables, tiled countertop, herb pots for decoration, vintage cutlery, mix and match vintage crockery, gigantic mud and thatch hanging light shades – you could feel like you are partying in Morocco or Africa.
We walked up the path between the two fire bowls, and on entering The Folly, we were warmly greeted with a foraged cocktail to match the flavours of the ‘piggy bits’ canapés. The cocktail was delightful and not a mix I would choose if it were on a menu, but I was delighted by the balance on trying it. It contained fennel, Chase vodka, lemon juice, orange liqueur and finished off with Fevertree smoky ginger beer, curated by the sommelier and host Luke Harbor.
As we mingled with other guests, the piggy bits were served and consisted of pork crackling, olives, smoked duck breast with beetroot reduction on a pitta bread, and seared mackerel and fennel slaw. Perfectly tasty bites to start the evening and the mackerel was wonderfully fresh and zesty with a good crunch.
The evening consisted of 3 courses with matching wine flight. Each course was introduced by The Pig groups chef director James Golding, with wines introduced and served by Luke and then in between courses, whilst Justin Lascelles from the Combe Estate also educated us on the land and its game, allowing a breather for us to chat amongst our fellow diners.
Starter was Venison Carpaccio, Lyburn’s old winchester cheese and rocket – paper thin slices of delicate venison meat with the dry nuttiness of a good cheese. The wine was a 2008 Viura – Vina Gravonia, Bodegas Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Spain – I noted this wine was creamy and smooth with a hint of sherry on the nose.
For the main event, a feast was laid. We enjoyed individual spatchcock partridges with damson glaze, whilst the tables were heavily laden with a wonderful spread for sharing including salt baked celeriac, swede with burnt butter, greens, elderberry red wine sauce and new potatoes, and not forgetting the fantastic wonky carrots. A balanced, hearty meal with sympathetic accompaniments to the partridge meat and OH MY – swede with burnt butter; I could have just eaten the lot like a little piggy! It gave a really moreish nuttiness to the creamy sweet swede.
To match our mains we enjoyed a 2016 Gamay – Jean Marc Burgaud, Morgon, Cote du Py, Beaujolais, France. It was fruity with a dry finish.
Pudding! How do you follow such tasty fayre without being overfed, well – with a delicate and just sweet enough plum mousse with plum compote. This really was an expertly crafted, smooth and light dessert. It had a thin cake base for a bit of texture and a tiny Mexican Marigold leaf on the side which packed a maximum mind-blowing pineapple flavour punch. We were treated to a 2014 Vintage Grenache – Mas Amiel, Maury, France. This was a natural wine which was like a vintage port, with a sweet raisin flavour on the palate.
Luke is such a natural host, with a warm smile and enthusiasm, he ensured everyone had a topped up wine glass or soft drink and worked the room with ease.
Make sure you look out for their next event, they are great value and The Pig are synonymous with quality and generosity, you’ll be in for a good evening for sure.
This particular event was poignant as The Pig had been shortlisted for the Eat Game Awards, in which the Hampshire venue came 2nd for ‘Best Restaurant Regularly Serving Game’.
It was also to encourage people to join in Great British Game Week (19th – 25th November 2018) by buying game from your local butcher – who can make sure it is prepared ready for you to cook and give you tips – or you can join in a game event at a participating restaurant or venue. Use #GBgameweek if you post on social media that you’ve tried some game.
Why Eat Game?
One of the main benefits of eating game meat is that is it one of the most healthiest meats available, very low in fat and cholesterol, game meat is lean as they are wild and are able to walk and roam freely so do not store so much fat.
The fat that is in game meat is Omega 3 When you hear Omega-3, most people will think of salmon, however wild game such as venison has an optimum ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, making game one of the healthiest sources of good fat.
What do we class as game?
- Wild duck
- Wild Geese
- Venison – Red, Sika, Fallow, Roe, Chinese Water Deer and Muntjac
It is healthy, wild and natural, good for the countryside and wildlife, has low carbon miles, is delicious and tasty, versatile and easy to cook.
– Source Taste of Game
The Pig at Combe, Gittisham, Honiton EX14 3AD
*I was hosted at this event, as a guest, but all views and opinions are my own*