Have you watched the show Chef’s table on Netflix? If you have you will remember Dan Barber from Blue Hill. I recently watched the episode about Blue Hill farm and he made a statement that stuck with me. He believes that eating needs to become an ethical act.
This resonated with me. As you may well know I am big on buying organic. In fact, it is everything. I eat mostly vegetarian and try to worry less about meat free Mondays but more about where my meat is coming from. Dan Barber also believes that if the meat is free range and reared ethically, it will result in a better flavour.
All produce, both meat and vegetable alike should be treated with the respect that they so richly deserve; for the simple reason that they sustain human life.
That’s a pretty big deal.
After a recent trip to Elgin, I experienced The Pool Room at Oak Valley with Chef Gordon Manuel. It was affirming to meet someone in our very own back yard that believes in and practices these principles in the kitchen.
The meat sourced for the restaurant is mostly reared on the farm (or at one of the neighboring farms) and all vegetables are organic and locally sourced where possible.
All animals are free range and ethically treated during their tenure at pasture.
The farm focuses on the Spanish and Portuguese tradition of acorn fed pork (a pig’s culinary dream) and wagyu beef and the estate also offers their own signature Oak Valley wines.
In case you were wondering, Oak Valley gains its name from the over 4000 giant English oaks that are scattered all over the 30 hectare property.
Naturally this provides ample acorns for the piggery, which are harvested and stored under water in large bunkers to provide feed.
This time of year (spring) the trees glow bright green in the dappled sunlight that has made its way through the canopy. The sound of the wind through the leaves rushes upon the senses offering a tangible connection to nature.
It is truly a sight to behold.
The actual restaurant, The Pool Room is set amidst these beautiful trees and tables are arranged around a bright blue swimming pool.
Sitting poolside you could lose your sense of time and sip away at a never ending glass of wine on a long summers day while the children play.
A family establishment that is pet friendly (Yes – Piglet joined me on the excursion and lay sunning himself while I feasted) that offers fantastic service from well trained and knowledgeable staff.
It is an ideal summers destination also offering picnics on the lawn under the trees.
Each dish was unique and had an element of country charm. Slightly rustic in their own right but elevated under the hand of professional chef. The salmon was perfect and the rich oiliness of the fish cut perfectly with the Oak Valley Chenin Blanc.
My favourite dish and an absolute must try was the pork. It was melt in your mouth; served with creamy mash and wild mushrooms and rounded off with a jus that takes two days to prepare.
Liquid gold if you ask me. My brother did make advances at my plate with a piece of table bread in an attempt to grab the last remnants of my dish.
Too bad I beat him to it.
I then made my way through dessert and it didn’t disappoint. A pear and frangipane tart with the perfect crisp and soft combination!
A perfect afternoon some might say? I tend to agree.
Establishments like The Pool Room are getting it right in more ways than one.
*This blog post was sponsored by The Pool Room, All opinions are my own.