October brought weekdays of high winds and autumnal rains interspersed with weekends of glorious sunshine. The leaves clung to their summer tones refusing to really submit to the russets and ambers and squash tones which illustrate my favourite of all the seasons. Until this last week when the moor seemed alive with browns and reds and the trees so glorious I could stop and photograph every single one, if only I had the time.
On Exmoor, October means two things. Deer and apples. The deer are rutting although I am sad to say personally the only stag I have seen was at 2am, driving home across the moor when we encountered a handsome fella stood illuminated briefly in our headlights before he cantered off, effortlessly bounding over a five bar gate. The Combes (valleys covered in ancient woodland, and we live in one) are supposed to be alive with the sound of deer. Sadly, all I have heard is owls.
Of apples however we have had moor success. We have eaten most of our small offering that our garden produced and have bought plenty of local juice. Today we went to our community apple juice and watched juice being made from apples grown in the village. Emphasises the use of so many apples in Halloween traditions and has given me a craving to make toffee apples for pudding.
There are many things that I miss about London. I thought restaurants would be one of them but there is a surprisingly good selection of places to eat to choose from down here. We are slowly attempting to try out them one by one.
Surrounded by pubs and hotels, Piggy in the Middle is situated bang in the middle of Porlock, along the stretch of ‘high street’ which is lit up by pretty little lights and looks so welcoming as you come down the hill and through the village. On Exmoor we are lucky to have a fantastic selection of local produce being both on the moor and coastal. We have organic produce everywhere we turn and thankfully Piggy in the Middle serves up yummy dishes full of local food.
Fine dining it’s not. The house wine comes in a carafe, the napkins are black linen, it’s a little faux french in decoration and the coffee is less than desirable but the food is nicely cooked and the service is friendly. Too many viewings of Masterchef and Junior Roux have led me to notice things like plate choice, symmetry and style of the food and precisely how acidic the beurre blanc is yet what really matters on a Thursday night when you book with ten minutes notice is that the food is cooked by someone who knows how to choose their ingredients. We shared a prawn, rice and salad dish and a herb and tomato crusted salmon fillet with a sticky toffee pudding and felt satisfyingly full but not overstuffed. The chef came out to speak to us and there was a happy atmosphere.
Not somewhere to go on a first date but an enjoyable place to have a casual supper.
Piggy in the Middle
Exmoor National Park, Somerset