karohemd: Gentoo penguins in Antarctica, by me (Hungry)
On Wednesday I took a train to London and then a tube to Highgate to take part in Porklife, a celebration of the pig by last year's Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and co-finalist Tom Whitaker.
The two nights only event was held at The Bull, a lovely brewpub in Highgate. I arrived well on time so could pick the table with the best light. People arrived very slowly so we didn't get started until after eight but I had my kindle so waiting wasn't so bad.

Tom and Tim

Tim and Tom appeared briefly to introduce themselves and then headed to the kitchen again.

Starter selection

The first course was the "little board" with deep-fried crumbed brawn and a spicy Korean mayo, a blood pudding roll (genius idea), a shotglass of "pea soup" and "hoggis". The first two were my favourites, the brawn soft with a crunchy coating and the roll with a well flavoured, crumbly black pudding. The hoggis (pork haggis) came with pickled neeps and whisky tatties, sitting on a biscuit. This was a nice idea but could possibly have had a bit more flavour. The pea soup contained bone marrow and pulled smoked hock. Very tasty indeed but probably not that healthy. ;o)

"Sandwich and Soup"

The "Soup and Sandwich intercourse" consisted of a nicely flavoured broth with pulled pork, savoy cabbage and butter beans served in a glass tumbler and rillettes of smoked hock, slithers of homemade guanciale wedged between thin toasted slices of bread. Especially the guanciale was superb but I enjoyed every element.

Then, the main event. First, there was a complimentary pint of Old Major, a "Bock Ale" created by Tim and the Bull's brewers specifically for the event. It wasn't as strong as a German Bock but had the typical sweet notes and a nice hint of smoke. I liked this a lot, if they sold this in bottles, I'd buy it regularly.

Mains selection

The main board had a portion of smoked, slow cooked belly which apart from the smokiness was rather similar to what you would get in Germany. Then there was slow cooked jowl with excellent meat wrapped in a rather tough skin. The spicy andouillette sausage would have been very nice if it hadn't been for a rather sharp sourness which put me off a little. The fact that it's offal stuffed into the large intestine didn't bother me at all.
Then there was a salad with crispy bits of ear and trotter, peanut, chilli and a fish sauce dressing. This was mainly a texture thing and pleasant enough. Other accompaniments were a fennel cream, barbecue sauce, apple mash, cornichons and a sort of coleslaw (called parsnip and celeriac remoulade) I really liked as well as a handmade caraway pretzel that tasted very similar to the ones from our baker in my German hometown.
There were some timing issues serving the mains, various items arrived a bit late but I was lucky that my food was still warm, I think a table or two were less lucky. Granted, there were a lot of items, though and I really enjoyed most of them.

By that time I was thoroughly stuffed but the desserts were still to come and of those I got a double helping for some reason.


The cinnamon sponge wasn't stodgy and a little bit sticky, just enough for me and the boozy cherries were a nice contrast. The rhubarb jelly could have been a bit tarter for my taste (I don't have a sweet tooth) but the vanilla and fennel ice cream was lovely with just enough aniseedy flavour to make it interesting. The bits in the ice cream was "crackling praline with walnuts" which, strangely enough, actually worked.

I briefly considered trying a shot of Chauvinist Pig, Tim's bacon infused bourbon but I had to walk back to the tube and then my train and wasn't sure what it would do to me. ;)

I also had a brief chat with Tim and Tom afterwards. They are both really nice blokes who clearly love what they're doing and were happy to chat about the food and beer and things.
While there a few hiccups along the way and not all dishes worked brilliantly, it was a great celebration of the allegedly so humble pig. Pork doesn't have to be just loin, chops and big roasts but you can use every part of the animal to make something tasty, you just need to spend some more time on the more unusual cuts.

A few more photos on flickr

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September 2017

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