Saturday, 20 February 2016

THE HAM, EGG & CHIPS PROJECT


After a hellishly busy week at work we decided to go out as a family for lunch today for a treat. We journeyed south to a tiny hamlet called Ham near Berkeley Castle where we found the Salutation Inn, known locally as the 'Sally'. 

The Sally has been winning recognition and awards such as CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) pub of the year since being taken over by Peter Tiley in 2013. Peter quit his job as a business analyst in London and with his wife Claire bought the lease of the Inn with their life savings. 

The reason I had wanted to visit the Sally was to find out more about the ham, egg and chips project which is possibly the first of its kind for a pub. In 2014 the pub bought some Gloucester Old Spot pigs, a rare breed that originate from the Severn Vale and that tradition says earned their spots from living in local orchards where the apples fell on them! They started to grow, butcher and cure their own ham (ham from Ham as they say) from the pigs and when this became a success they bought chickens to provide them with eggs and planted potatoes so they could make their own chips ~ the real good life! 

On arriving at the Sally, it was not how we imagined, instead of the sanded wooden floorboards and trendy falcon enamelware that has become de rigueur for every new bar and restaurant, the pub still has a skittle alley and carpet that dated from the 70's or maybe 80's. The other thing that the pub has is local's, this wasn't a destination pub for foodies this is a valued part of the local community! The skittle alley was decorated for a 60th birthday party, someone was buying some flagons of ale to take away to the local rugby match and there were plenty of pub regulars too, catching up over a pint and parking their horse boxes on the lane outside. On the wall there were details of loads of events over the weeks ahead, from a home brew competition to a bring your own supper night. 

We examined the menu, there were just three main options as the Inn wants to do things simply and properly; ham, egg and chips, a ploughmans and a daily changing third option, which today was a venison burger. We ordered one of each of the main items, plus ham rolls and extra chips between the five of us and settled down to a card game of Jacks. My husband was impressed the amazing range of ales and ciders on offer in this free-house, nine different ciders and eight beers on tap and there was bottled too! He choose Quercus from local cider makers Barnes and Adams and having tasted a little, it was delicious. 

Within 20 minutes of the Inn opening it was full; a few families like us, groups of friends wet from a wintery walk, couples with their dogs and locals sat on bar stools. Our food arrived and we hungrily tucked in, I chose the ham, egg and chips and it was of course the best ham, egg and chips I had ever tasted, I didn't expect any different - thick cuts of ham, hand cut chips that were fluffy inside and eggs with gloriously golden yolks. My husband delighted in his ploughmans which boasted cheese from local producers Godsell's and Jonathan Crump and the boys wolfed down the burger, ham rolls and chips. The only downside was the sachets of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, I'm just not keen on them and would much rather a bottle or jar, but I can forgive a sachet or two!  

With bellies full we drove home, happy to have discovered why The Sally is loved by so many, this is how pubs should be and we'll certainly return. 

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