Pig and Swig Spring Pop! -Bristol

Inspired by Pere-Lachaise and Kensal Green Cemeteries, Arnos Vale opened in 1839 as a response to the overcrowded parish graveyards of Bristol. A 45 acre plot of land in Brislington, which at that time was a leafy little village on the outskirts of the city, it was a garden cemetery with landscaping and architecture in the classical Grecian style. Housing the graves of Victorian Bristol's great and good, as well as ordinary folk, perhaps most notable is that of the philosopher and religious reformer, Raja Rammohun Roy. Grade II listed and in the shape of a Bengali chattri, it stands out from the Victorian gravestone symbolism which is just as intriguing as its floriography.
 


Having fallen into disrepair and with the threat of land being sold off to property developers during the late 1980s, the cemetery has been rescued and lovingly restored by a group of dedicated volunteers supported by Bristol City Council, private donations and Heritage Lottery funding. As part of the restoration project, it now has a contemporary glass pavilion attached to the Spielman Centre. Home to the Atrium Cafe, usually run by Whisk!, this is where the Pig and Swig pop-up took place.


The format was six small plates matched with a beer float by the Wild Beer Co. To kick off (let's not talk about Wales v England at the Millennium Stadium -the less said the better), we ate Lavash with pickles. Handkerchief thin, the soft, warm flat bread was accompanied by a delicious coconut raita, aubergine pickle and carrot chutney. For me, the grated, almost candied carrot chutney was a little heavy on toasted coriander seeds but this married well with the zesty glass of Epic Saison.



Next, pan fried cod with wild garlic and yogurt infused with horseradish. Sustainably sourced and landed in Cornwall, the cod was perfectly cooked and leaves of wilted wild garlic with a little heat from the horseradish, made each mouthful interesting. It was coupled with a glass of Fresh which packed a clean, citrus punch.



We moved on to tender chilli beef brisket which had been slow cooked for 12 hours. Served with sharp gherkin slices, pickled chilli and sour cream, these toned down the richness of the red meat. Accompanied by Madness IPA, this was my favourite beer of the night. Bursting with tropical fruit flavours and lighter but no less complex than the other beers, I would be happy to drink this again.



Wye valley asparagus with Romesco sauce followed, with a glass of Scarlet Fever. Smoky and brimming with the flavour of sun-ripened nightshades, the Romesco sauce carried a little heat from paprika but, didn't over power the asparagus.



The penultimate plate was a slice of twice cooked breast of salt marsh lamb, stuffed with dates and thyme. Tender, sweet, with the slightest rim of flavourful fat, it was served with thin slices of  earthy beetroot and crushed hazelnuts. A glass of Put it in Your Pipe, complemented it very well and I think this was my favourite dish of the night.



We finished the evening with beer doughnuts, malted milk ice cream and Stout caramel. Snippets of churros style doughnut, on their own, were a little too bitter. Mixed with a spoonful of smooth malted ice cream and butter rich caramel however, it worked very well indeed. It was matched with a glass of Wildebeest -11%, brewed with Valrhona cocoa nibs, vanilla pods and ground Colombian coffee beans. Not a natural beer lover, it was a little too dark and a little too Adult for my liking. I think it's safe to say it is more a reflection of my palate than the beer!



Aiming to showcase the best ingredients and produce in the Southwest, Pig and Swig is the idea of Kelly Sealey, chef and head tutor at Bordeaux Quay cookery school. Her second event, Kelly's enthusiasm and love for food certainly shines through and in such a wonderful venue, I hope there are many more Pig and Swig Pop-ups to come.

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