May 5, 2011
The restaurant sourcing its ingredients from the local woods.
In culinary terms, the key development of the 20th century was the triumph of time over space. Refrigeration and then airfreight made it possible to ship fresh food across the planet, liberating chefs from the straitjacket of the seasons. But it didn't take long to catch up on us: the carbon required was never going to be sustainable and isn't there something strange about eating blueberries in December? It's a sentiment that's chimed with a new generation of chefs, chief among them James Golding, once of J Sheekey and Le Caprice and now head of kitchen at The Pig in Brockenhurst, Hampshire where he's installed a radical food policy: 80 per cent of ingredients to be sourced within 25 miles, with everything possible grown in the garden or foraged from the surrounding New Forest.
Before I eat, he takes me through the fruits of recent expeditions: mushrooms, a bottle of perry made from found pears, their own chorizo. When I get to the table, the real treats begin: Scotch eggs and smoked sausages from the home-reared Tamworth. After that come medallions of wood pigeon, then poached pears. When he can't grow it or find it, James relies on high-quality food producers from the immediate environs: our honey had travelled eleven miles, my black pudding only nine. The sea's purslane on my pasta had been picked, that morning, from the beach. It was on my plate only hours later. In terms of culinary innovations, this is surely the real triumph of speed.