WHEN the original Pig opened in Brockenhurst in 2011 the inspiration was to bring the kitchen garden right into the heart of the hotel, placing homegrown and locally sourced food at the very top of the agenda.
Fast forward eight years and the litter has grown to eight Pig hotels, drawing a loyal following of customers to Cornwall, Bath, the South Downs, Devon, Dorset, Canterbury and Southampton.
Hailed as one of the biggest success stories in the UK hospitality, the Pig group has also launched its very own Smoked and Uncut music festival, bringing A-list artists and up-and-coming acts to its picturesque grounds for a celebration of music and feasting.
Now a new hardback book shares some of the secrets behind the Pig’s phenomenal success – The Pig Tales and Recipes from The Kitchen Garden and Beyond, published by Octopus Books, is part recipe book and part lifestyle bible with tips on everything from visiting car boot sales to growing your own veg.
In the introduction, hotel co-founder Robin Hutson (who created Hotel du Vin and launched Lime Wood) recalls: “The first Pig, in Brockenhurst in the leafy heart of the New Forest, was previously a hotel called Whitley Ridge. It’s a lovely old house, of course, but the lightbulb moment came when I saw the walled garden.
“A beautiful but neglected spot, full of weeds and with just a couple of carrots growing, it was the potential of the garden that really swung it for me.
“Right from the beginning, we wanted the kitchen garden to be the heart and soul of the place and to play a big part in influencing the menu. We talked about a change to the traditional hierarchy of the kitchen team, whereby the kitchen gardener and forager would become equally ranked lieutenants – along with the sous chefs – to the head chef.”
Delving inside the glossy pages of the book reveals a whole array of ‘classic’ recipes from rib of aged beef and shepherd’s salad to fish pie, porchetta and even a pink blancmange bunny.
There is also plenty of inspiration for vegetable dishes such as roasted cauliflower steaks, broccoli poached eggs and crosnes, beetroot and blue vinney salad and garden squash, and old Winchester cheese straws.
There are also sections devoted to edible flowers, pickling, foraging, mushroom cultivation and growing your own vegetables and fruit.
Cocktail lovers are well catered for with a guide to creating some of the hotel’s most popular tipples including the old fashioned, applemint, the filthy martini, gardener’s G&T, forager’s fizz and rhubarb bellini.
As well as an introduction from Robin Hutson the book highlights teams that have helped make the business such a success including head gardener Ollie Hutson, chef-director James Golding, ‘princess of puds’ Lex Bartlett-Woodnutt, salvage expert Travers Nettleton, cider maker Julian Temperley, craftsman Steve Henderson and hotel co-founder and head of landscaping David Elton.
There is a guide to interior inspirations by Robin’s wife Judy Hutson, covering everything from how to buy at car boot sales to the art of lighting.
Other highlights include a guide to spa treatments to soothe and relax, party tricks for hosting summer feasts and winter gatherings, ideas for outdoor garden rooms and tips for barbecue cooking.
The Pig Tales and Recipes from The Kitchen Garden and Beyond is published by Octopus Books, priced £30.