Pig & Apple

 

What do you do when a great opportunity presents itself? The people who answer “Go for it”, are the people who get things done. So why not pack your job in, begin a start-up business and run a café. That’s what former chef at Monmouth School, Jake, and his partner Jess are up to and they have set up shop for their first enterprise together at Monmouthshire rural skills hub Humble by Nature.

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe

Jake, who had already been in his catering career for several years at the flagship Monmouth Boys, felt gifted to be able to set up their own business in what was effectively a mothballed café ready to go. “Kate and her team have been so good with us”, says Jake. “They’ve just said use whatever you can. It’s been so helpful to us as a start-up”.

menu, Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe
Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe

Jess, by an elegantly circuitous turn of fate, used to be an apprentice chef (and later also the Boys School) at Humble by Nature and so knew the sites potential. All it needed was a good clean up to clear the months absence of café hubbub, to throw open the entire opening side wall to the farm yard and kitchen garden and let the light and fresh air flood in. Next, sort out the logistics of your everyday electrical certificates and reinstate your food hygiene rating (a lot more time consuming than you might think) and hey presto – The Pig & Apple Café!!

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe

Here’s a young couple (20 and 25) working hard and making it on their own. A sensibly simple menu that just the two of them can cook short order and serve on time even to a full house. Café food that’s good, easy to eat, warm (in a cwtching sort of way) comfort food that nails it. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be excellent. Far from it.

In our “celebrity”, “super food” world it sometimes feels like it’s ingredients that have the bragging rights. In food, good food at any rate, we have a rule. Don’t ask yourself what you are adding, ask yourself why.

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe

So, for Jake and Jess the “Pig & Apple Burger” was a no brainer starting point for a signature plate. Great for lunch but also great to feed the party at their evening opening and entertaining shenanigans.

Our chosen religion is.. If you are going to put bacon on a burger it had better be well done, it had better be streaky and it had better be crisp. Otherwise what does it bring to a burger. If you have got a great burger nailed, and Jake has – home ground beef from Neil Powell butchers (doesn’t get much better on the supplier front), mixed, rolled and ready to rock. Add the secret seasoning, press and cook out on the hot plate to achieve flavoursome caramelised brown bits wrapped around fantastic quality local beef.

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe

Our bacon argument goes like this; well done in lower heat with a bacon iron or topping pan keeps the bacon flat and it renders out the pork fat to a sweet and crumbly texture, streaky because you want that rendered pork fat to add a little flavour and additional saltiness to the stack and crisp to add a different texture to the whole thing. So, there you go. Bacon because it adds flavour, texture (crumbly and robust), salt and sweetness. Theory justified!

Wedge the aforementioned into a toasted sesame and seed bun, hit the bun base with a really, really good deliciously sweet apple relish, don’t fuss too much on the leaves – just something ultra-fresh, green and crispy, put it on the pass and call “service” on another Pig & Apple burger.

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple Burger

As anyone will know who has tried to find Humble by Nature, Kates rural skills and farm HQ, for the first time without the assistance or an orbiting satellite, there isn’t a stampede of footfall along this leafy lane. But build it and they will come. This location just gets busier and busier.

Already the Pig & Apple are making sausages from the farm pork produced by Tim and Sarah (agricultural heroes who run the 117-acre farm) as well as herbs from the kitchen garden and the intention is to source as much as possible from the farm itself.

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
Tomato & basil on the hob – Soup of the day

It is one of the significant and founding principles of the slow food movement that is often all too conveniently forgotten – the food miles issue. Great, to be supporting local farmers to grow seasonal produce in order to support themselves and their families. But if the reason for doing that is to exploit market forces and the labour markets for profit before that food is then flown half way around the globe to the consumer, it kind of defeats the object.

“Where does it come from” is something we are all now more willing to ask, we do it all the time. But, it’s not that often that we are simply asked to look out of the window for the answer. This is about as close to “farm gate” as food gets.

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe

Keep an eye on these guys, it’s down to earth, it’s no nonsense, it’s honest, it’s local and it’s tasty with a hint of fun. And the burgers are as good as any we’ve tasty, however many guys were involved in making them. Well worth meandering down the leafy lane.

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
Jake and Jess

Stuff you need to know

Upper Meend Farm, Monmouth NP25 4RP Wales

Jake & Jess +44 7868 138286

https://www.instagram.com/thepigandapple/

https://www.facebook.com/thepigandapple/

Pig and Apple, cafe, David Broadbent Photography, copyright, credit, WyeDean Deli Confidential, Humble by Nature, food and drink, new cafe, small business, Monmouthshire, Penalt,
The Pig & Apple cafe

Exclusive – New Single Variety

Not everything that tastes fantastic looks fabulous.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall wrote a great piece, intended to compliment another of his insightful food investigation programmes, for the BBC recently. It was unequivocally about food waste. The waste caused domestically was examined but one of the other main themes was about perfectly good vegetables that go straight from farm to skip! Why? They aren’t pretty enough for the supermarkets root vegetable fashion parade and ever present size and shape guidelines. Interestingly echoing the same point we made out in why the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley is a bit like Tuscany piece.

We spent a great morning, albeit an early start on a misty October dawn, in Monmouthshire with Apple County Cider inspecting and photographing the individual apples for their single variety Dabinett and Vilberie award winning ciders – and they have the Golden Fork Great Taste trophy to prove it!

Apple varieties. Apple County Cider
Apple varieties. Apple County Cider

If you have ever been to a craft cider producers you will know that any preconceived romantic notions of wooden barrels, rickety small outbuildings and ancient machinery are , well just romantic. More likely is a somewhat more workaday air – which incidentally, we here at WyeDean Deli Confidential are hopelessly romantic about anyway. The raw materials don’t get much better in the fashion stakes either. Cider making varieties, taste sharp and sometimes very dry (Dabinett has a dessert apple flavour at first with a very dry note on the back of the palate) and they look anything but appealing. They are small, perfectly formed – but small, and the cider maker doesn’t care much for how they look – scabby, with chunks missing is just fine. Piled up in the cider yard they look for all the world like a Waitrose sound stage back lot of the extras that didn’t quite get the Director’s nod. We watched them getting their first wash of the process from the elevated water contents of a large mechanical digger bucket from about ten feet high. It made them glisten but they still looked about as far away from a dessert apple as you can get.

But the skilled cider maker, as Ben Culpin has already proved himself (against stiff national competition) to be, can see the whole Act and Play and not just Scene 1. Ben is interested in the backstory and the bitter-sweet sub-plots, essential if you are intending to make a block-buster with appeal and longevity rather than a B movie. It’s the complex taste and personality, not the look, that is in demand. It’s a bit like, instead of casting Hale Berry in the female lead you choose ______________, sorry we bottled offending anyone – so insert your own suggestions in the space provided!

Ben Culpin. Apple County Cider
Ben Culpin. Apple County Cider

Tell you what Ben, don’t go for the easy option of using any apples you can get and then blending. Why not try and make stunning single variety ciders and a perry in a traditional method and then trying wowing the public and cider glitterati and winning national awards for your work? Oh, you did that already! Anyway, there is the crux of it. It’s all about the taste. In Ben’s and Steph Culpins’ case, the quality of the taste of the craft product they are happy to call Apple County Cider.

Apple varieties. Apple County Cider
Apple varieties. Apple County Cider

It is sometimes frustrating (identifying cider apples can be a very nuanced hobby!) but always very rewarding to see the varieties in the growers orchard. The difficulty of identification can be easily demonstrated by “Googling” images for any apple variety and trying to work which, of the half dozen different results, is the right one! WyeDean Deli Confidential always brings you the news and back story to makers, growers and suppliers. Although we can’t say too much, we think that there may be news in the not too distant future of a possible new variety from the Apple County Cider yard……Exclusive alert!! You didn’t hear it from us but we think that a single variety Yarlington Mill cider will soon be added to the Apple County stable. If you do, and we recommend you do, visit their cider shop you’ll find all the same great taste in farmyard chic but always remember it’s really about the taste. Stock up for the holidays.

Apple varieties. Apple County Cider
Steph Culpin. Apple County Cider