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Journey through time and terroir

Nestled amidst Devon’s rolling hills, The Pig at Combe stands as a testament to timeless charm and culinary excellence.

The Pig at Combe dates back to Eizabethan times, and this historic establishment is not just a hotel; it’s a living testament to centuries of tradition, a place where the past whispers through the landscape and every corner tells a story. From the moment guests arrive, they are enveloped in an atmosphere of rustic elegance that is as captivating as it is welcoming. Surrounded by lush gardens, an Arabian stud farm, and vast acres of arable land, The Pig at Combe exudes an aura of sophistication and tranquillity, inviting visitors to step back in time and indulge in the simple pleasures of life.

Each hotel that makes up part of The Pig group is chosen for its historic building, and while all are different in their own right, there’s always a feeling that you know you’re in a Pig. Each room within the hotel is a sanctuary in itself, a unique blend of comfort and character that reflects the individuality of its surroundings. Whether nestled in a cosy nook with exposed beams or basking in the panoramic views from a spacious suite, guests are treated to an experience that is both luxurious and authentic, a true escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

At the heart of The Pig at Combe, as with every Pig, lies its culinary offering. Its kitchen garden is a veritable oasis of abundance meticulously tended by a dedicated team of gardeners. Here, amidst the Devon   sun and its fertile soil, seasonal produce thrives, shaping the menu in ways that celebrate the rich tapestry of flavours the region has to offer. From heirloom apples to freshly harvested greens, every dish tells a story of terroir and tradition, a tribute to the land and its bounty. Nothing is forced here.

The Pig at Combe has an unwavering commitment to sustainability and zero-waste practices. With a focus on organic garden practices and local sourcing, the hotel strives to minimise its ecological footprint while maximizing flavour. From composting kitchen scraps to pickling surplus produce, every effort is made to honour the ethos of responsible stewardship, ensuring each meal served is not just delicious, but also environmentally conscious. The dedication to sustainability extends beyond the kitchen to the bar, where seasonal ingredients find their way into artisanal cocktails crafted with care. Even the eclectic tableware reflects The Pig’s ethos, with mismatched plates and vintage cutlery adding to the charm of the dining here.

The culinary experience is one of simplicity and excellence, with a menu rooted in classic British fare and inspired by the rhythm of the seasons. The kitchen garden forms the basis of the ‘25-mile menu’ and whatever can’t be grown or reared here is sourced locally. Whether indulging in a succulent pork chop sourced from the hotel’s own pigs or savouring a vibrant salad made with freshly picked greens, guests are treated to a feast for the senses that delights the palate and nourishes the soul. The ethos of eating here is simple; three or four good things on plate that taste delicious. The quality of the produce is so good that there is no need for unnecessary additions.

Central to its culinary philosophy is the concept of “plot-to-plate” dining, where ingredients sourced from the hotel’s kitchen garden take centre stage. Working in tandem with the head chef, the gardeners meticulously plan and cultivate produce tailored to the seasons, ensuring that each dish reflects the freshness and flavour of the surrounding landscape. With a menu that evolves with the changing seasons, guests can expect a culinary journey that celebrates the bounty of Devon’s countryside.

Head Chef Rob and Head Gardener Pete, work very closely together on a daily basis, with produce from the garden determining what will appear on the daily changing menu. “I like to let Pete do his job,” says Rob, “and grow the best vegetables, salad and fruits that he can. This is where I draw my inspiration rather than pre-planning dishes.” Pete adds: “Rob is very clever at being able to respond to what we have harvested. It may be that something has bolted and needs to be picked and used within the next eight days. Mother Nature doesn’t drip feed us. Take our berries, for example, they’re here for just two weeks so Rob needs to be able to work on the fly. Thankfully, he’s very adept at fermenting and making rubs, pickles and preserves for use in less fruitful times with the benefit that the resulting jars, packed with produce, make a great addition to the dining room decoration.”

“My kitchen garden team are currently removing everything that’s been growing over winter, using up the the cabbages and kales that have been growing in the polytunnels. Spring planting will start soon and will include lots of quick growing salads leaves and radishes and then will come the fresh broad beans and the vibrant beetroot varieties. For me, this is one of the most exciting times of year, when you can smell spring in the air and new shoots and seedlings are starting to appear.”

“Apart from incredible flavour, what sets our food apart,” explains Rob, “is that we know exactly where it all comes from. We can give you a postcode, we can give the longitude and latitude of exactly where it’s grown and we’ll have met the person that grew it. When we serve fish, the menu will include the name of the boat that landed it. The same with the meat; the farm will be named and it’s likely just a couple of miles down the road.” While, the kitchen garden here isn’t certified as organic, that is what Pete and his team practice: “We can’t be putting anything nasty on the soil as it will end up on the plate. We don’t use fertilisers or herbicides, preferring biological control instead, introducing predatory insects to address the balance.”

Guests are invited to immerse themselves in the beauty of The Pig’s surroundings and connect with the land in meaningful ways. A stroll through the orchards reveals a treasure trove of fruit trees. Venture a little further for an after-dinner stroll, and you’ll find the hotel’s small drove of pigs, an apiary from which they produce their own honey, ducks, chicken, quail and a few sheep. It’s all about that zero-mile sourcing and helps with understanding the ethos of what is happening here. For those seeking a deeper understanding of the hotel’s plot-to-plate approach, guided garden tours offer insight into the meticulous care and attention that goes into every ingredient sourced and each dish freshly prepared.

As the seasons ebb and flow, The Pig remains a beacon of culinary innovation and rural hospitality, redefining the art of dining in Devon’s bucolic landscape. With a nod to tradition and an eye toward the future, it continues to captivate guests with its blend of timeless charm and modern sophistication. Whether that be a leisurely meal in the garden or basking in the beauty of the countryside, guests are sure to find solace and delight in this idyllic retreat, where every moment is a celebration of the land and the rich tapestry of flavour it provides.


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