By Julian Demetriadi, Director of CommunicationsPoint
A typical British May Bank Holiday Monday – a grey day with threatening clouds that thankfully held their load until we had finished our spectacular morning walk round Hengistbury Head, near Christchurch, Dorset. Then came the deluge and it was time for a late lunch. Bizarrely the fish and chip café, designated for our badly needed calories, decided not to open on a Bank Holiday Monday. Next to the back-up choice – The Old Granary at Wareham, an hour’s journey away in driving rain. Got through the door at 3pm only to discover they had just stopped serving! Disconsolate and ready to eat a mule, we asked for a local recommendation that might be still open. Then Eureka! We were recommended The Salt Pig in the town’s North Street.
The Good Lord moves in mysterious ways and by default we had alighted upon a gem café and restaurant, cum urban farm shop – including butchery and fishmonger counters – specialising in the “very best produce” from Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck. Its imaginative menu changes daily – depending on seasonality, what the local suppliers deliver and what The Salt Pig manages to forage in the area! We had a delicious lunch of home-baked pies in artistically shaped pastry, containing locally sourced beef (with a pastry horn) and pork (with a pastry snout) – accompanied by vegetables from the region. This was followed by home-made trifle and chocolate cake, before exploring the shop itself. As the owners truthfully claim on their website www.thesaltpig.co.uk: “Whether you are buying to cook at home from our in-house butcher or fish counter, or having breakfast or lunch in our café, you can be sure you are eating the best to be found in Purbeck, the most sustainable and environmental, as well as fairly priced”.
The fish counter sells only day boat catches or local potted crabs and lobster direct from designated fishermen, who use “sustainable methods” of fishing. No merchants are involved, “ensuring fresh and affordable fish”. The crab and lobster arrive live, for instance, from Nick Ford at Kimmeridge; and the shellfish come from the Dorset Shellfish Company who operate in nearby Poole. At the time of writing this blog on 5 May, the seasonal fish at The Salt Pig include: sea bass, mackerel, plaice, sole, diver-caught scallops, crab and lobster.
Likewise, the meat in the butchery is locally sourced and food miles are kept to a minimum. Three farms, all within a 7-mile radius of The Salt Pig, supply lamb, beef (White Park beef is hung for at least 28 days to get the best flavour) and pork – Steepleeze Farm, Wytch Farm and George Haskell’s Farm at East Creech. The Salt Pig claims to be “able to tell you every detail about the animals’ rearing and welfare”, verifying that they all have “great outdoor lives”. In addition, the establishment has its own Mangalitsa and Berkshire pigs, kept on RSPB (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) land just four miles from the shop. These are highly impressive practices and intentions – providing a great example for other businesses to follow, as well as a powerful USP for marketing. It is so good to see a food shop and restaurant taking environmental, local and quality issues so seriously.
The Salt Pig even offers bespoke outside catering for any occasion – ranging from weddings and corporate meetings to dinner parties, barbecues (over Purbeck charcoal) and individual picnics. This is a highly tempting offer once you’ve experienced this great hub for local foods and its glorious range of Purbeck foods – whether it be the famed Dorset Blue Vinny cheese, locally produced relishes, or half-a-dozen Dorset snails, which we bought and consumed with great delight last night – you are in for a real foodie treat, reflecting the fantastic produce of the area you are visiting and the highest environmental and ethical standards. Congratulations to The Salt Pig – expect us back very soon!Back to Blog