Wednesday 25 August 2010

Hog Roast at The Red Lion & Sun

I first met Heath Ball, owner of The Red Lion & Sun, at The Ship in Wandsworth. He told me about his pub which is located in Highgate - so far north of the river it's nosebleed-inducing. I knew it was unlikely that I would visit his pub any time in the near future.

However, dangle a carrot in front of a pony and the pony will eventually knock you clean out of the way, wrenching that sweet carrot from your grasp. That is what Heath did to me; the offer of a hog roast. A whole pig on a spit. I gathered 30 of my friends and we made the mission. Immunisations all up to date, we headed to leafy Highgate.

We walked into the garden to be greeted by cute jam jars of Four Roses bourbon, kindly donated by them. I'm not usually a fan of whiskey, but this concoction, full of sweetness and lime, was addictive and thirst quenching. A tray of puffy, crispy crackling dipped in apple sauce kept the hunger pangs at bay while the wafts of pork on the spit wafted over tantalisingly.

The poor piggy had his head chopped off to fit in the spit. A whopping 75kg Gloucester Old Spot, it was basted regularly with bourbon.

Salads were laid out and they were not your usual buffet affair. A multi-coloured tomato salad with plenty of basil featured actually ripe tomatoes that tasted of something. Potato salad had bite and no clag, while the leaves had ribbons of carrots and half moon slivers of red onion. We were never going to make even a dent in the most enormous bowl of white bean salad.

"The foccacia smells like real foccacia!" squealed one Italian lady. I didn't get a bite of it (why eat bread when it could be room for meat?) but everyone that did raved about it.

Photo above by Emma Dickinson

The pork was served to the masses. It was absolutely delicious. I haven't been to a hog roast where I didn't encounter a dry piece of meat, usually from the loin as it's lean and it dries out the quickest. Not here; all of it was juicy and tender. I had 2 platefuls before I had to take a break.

I casually walked past the spit again, and Heath got my attention. "Here, have some belly" - he ripped it straight off the pig with his hands. Oh. My. Silky, fatty, porky, all those adjectives. I shared a bit with a friend and the only noises we could make were "ahhhuhhmmuuuuhhhhhh". It was slightly obscene. Later on, I was accosted with some tenderloin; still pink, it felt like biting into butter.

Claire from D'Arenberg Wines, an Australian winemaker from Adelaide, kindly supplied us with copious amounts of booze. I liked how they all had odd names; my favourite was The Last Ditch. It was a delicious Viognier from 2008 and it matched the food well (if you believe in that kind of thing) - fuzzy fruits and slightly nutty.

We finished up in a far more uncivilised fashion. Oh, those J├Ągerbombs.

We paid a measly £10 each for all that grub, though we got lucky on the booze front as Four Roses and D'Arenberg catered for us. Poor Heath has gone well and truly off lamb and pork after having roasted hundreds of the beasts in two years, so you should make the most of it and book your next celebration there. Or you don't even have to be celebrating. We had a truly cracking night, to be followed by 3 hours sleep and a dog-rank hangover the next day. J├Ągermeister for you, I suppose.

Red Lion & Sun

25 North Road
Highgate Village
N6 4BE

Tel: 020 8340 1780


Maria said...

Nice to be called a lady from time to time!

Su-Lin said...

Woohoo! Thanks for organising it again, Lizzie!

BribedwithFood said...

I missed the pork belly, but had half a cheek.
I'm still salivating at the thought!

Great evening - Once again, thanks for organising!

Unknown said...

Wow. Even I'd travel to North London for that.

Gin and Crumpets said...

Brilliant evening, thank you for organising it. Ripping into the tenderloin and chowing down on the snout with a glass of lovely bourbon constantly in my hand made for a very happy meal and a shocking hangover that's still refusing to go away.

Unknown said...

mmmmm pig pig piggy pig - still dreaming about it. worst hangover ever - not dreaming about that!

Greedy Diva said...

Great night, Lizzie. Amazing pig, terrific wines and fab company. I'm hankering to go back for the lamb.

Dan said...

Holy shit - so gutted I couldn't make this :(

Jane-Anne said...

Pig and crackling? And I read this at 11 at night, when I am so hungry I could weep? Lovely post and inspired food writing. Thank you.

Tom said...

That looks absolutely magnificent.

Jagerbombs, good for nothing but pain.

Anonymous said...

er, massive bosh?! looks stunning. 75kg of stunning. We're hitting the Albion at the end of the month, it'll be interesting to see how they compare...

dining tables said...

This is really nice! That pig is amazing. It has been a long time since I haven't had roasted ones.