A ‘Pig Masterclass’ at Trinity

I am not a regular visitor to Clapham. Mostly, it seems to be full of the kind of bars that think they are unique but are actually based on the template of All Bar One. My heart yearns for a proper boozer. The only time I’ve ever really dragged my judgemental ass over there, was to get loaded in the park. I’ve also been to Trinity a few times; each visit finding myself befuddled trying to work out who exactly they are catering for.

Head chef Adam Byatt offered the explanation of “everyone”. Customers in Clapham are mixed: young and hipsterish, yummy and mummyish, older couples with older kids. It’s a local restaurant with a whole lot of target customer on its plate; you’ve got to admire them rising to the challenge. Adam also keeps himself busy running cooking sessions at the kind of schools that require you to pass through a metal detector on the way in, and now they are running classes for the grown ups too, like this one – ‘The Pig’.

I never turn down an invite to anything with pig in the title and so found myself seated around the chef’s table watching Adam portion a half loin of Gloucester Old Spot on the bone, from Blackwell Farm, in Essex. The demonstration would be followed by a meal featuring various bits of one they prepared earlier, matched with Trimbach wines. You can do this too, for £70, although your meal will be served with a selection of ciders and perrys.

Adam selected a large saw from his surgical tray of implements and took to dissecting the loin with gusto. Sweat beaded his brow as he wrestled to remove the rack, puffing out his enthusiasm for buying whole and butchering, as it encourages the development of the chefs’ craft, allows for greater control over cuts and gives you more bang for your buck.

The rack removed, it was cleaned and trimmed, with all bits of extra meat going into a pot to be minced and mixed with onions, prunes, sage, chestnuts, thyme, breadcrumbs and sloshes of port and brandy. Its heady, herbaceous fragrance wafted around the table, piquing appetites for the meal ahead.

The stuffing was layered between meat and skin and tied up with heat resistant string in an appropriately cheffy manner.

And then it was time. The meal began with plump, rosemary-scented devils on horseback followed by spectacular biscuit like ‘flatbreads’ for scooping up dollops of smoky whipped taramasalata. Next, a white onion and thyme velouté, which triggered a hazy memory; I’m sure I’ve had it before here as an amuse. Deeply savoury, silky smooth and seasoned with pin point accuracy, it came in a small bowl which was actually a big cup. The only right way to consume this was by picking it up, although I saw others daintily spooning. It didn’t see eye to eye with a spiky 2007 Riesling sadly, which seemed a rather harsh accompaniment.

Smoked eel, steamed oyster and sole goujons with horseradish cream was “about as pretty as Trinity gets” according to the chef. This first experience of a steamed oyster was dominated mostly by alarm at its bogey-like appearance. It didn’t prove much more pleasant in the eating. The smoked eel sliver was perfect though, coating the mouth with its lingering oil and cut with horseradish bite. A very saline dish, buffered charmingly by the softness of a pretty leek terrine.

Pig’s trotters on toast were a gelatinous treat, cut by a pared down gribiche, which thankfully omitted the usual chopped eggs and much of the oil, presumably to avoid overkill against the rich, gummy trotters. A perfect strip of blistered pig skin balanced its bubbly self on top.

Trimbach Pinot Noir Reserve 2007 arrived alongside, but I failed to jot a single letter about it. At this point, the wine people started having a very in-depth technical discussion about some winey thing or other; I switched off and contemplated how best to steal the piece of neglected crackling on my neighbour’s plate. Food will always be my first love.

Pork belly came water bathed (for 16 hours), pressed and slicked with maple glaze and accompanied by cockles, celery heart and black olive oil mash. The combination of shellfish and pork is a personal favourite, but here I felt the cockles were slightly ill fitting, particularly against the aesthetically challenged mash. I think Douglas describes it rather well in his post as evoking “a pat from a cow prescribed a laxative-only diet.” Quite.

A quince tart tatin was thankfully just the right size for once (what is it with those monstrous versions?), glossy with oozing caramel and perfumed with star anise, as was the accompanying floral syrup: Gewürztraminer Selection De Grains Nobles (’89). My favourite wines are nearly always Gewürztraminers, unless they are Rieslings. This is because I have a “hyper-sensitive” palate according to a tall man in a suit who gave me a sticker to prove it. A bold, sticky, harmonious marriage between liquor and pud.

Throughout the meal, the enthusiasm and charm of Jean Trimbach, Adam Byatt and (sommelier) Rupert Taylor was unrelenting and there were moments when my tongue was tied by the magic of a developing wine or a stunning element on the plate. Sadly, some of the food and wine matches felt forced and in these instances I couldn’t suppress the longing for one of those bubbly ciders. You need not worry about this however. Consume your Trimbach wine as you wish and keep an eye on Adam Byatt and Trinity; not everything coming out of that kitchen is perfect, but ambitions are high, sights are set and there’s a driving force of pure passion. I wish them all the success in the world.

The Trinity Pig masterclass costs £70 per person, including the butchery demonstration and lunch, matched with ciders and perrys. It runs from 10am-1pm. The next class will be held on Tuesday 2nd March. You can find details of other classes here.

You can see the rest of my photos from the evening here.

Trinity Restaurant
4 The Polygon
Tel: 020 7622 1199

Trimbach Wines

Trinity on Urbanspoon

Category: Classes, Restaurant Reviews | Tags: , , , , 23 comments »

23 Responses to “A ‘Pig Masterclass’ at Trinity”

  1. Greedy Diva

    What a superb way to spend a morning! I like the sound of matching it with ciders and perrys.

  2. Robert (thirstforwine)

    great summary and post and I love the photos – you’ve managed to capture the movement really well. Must get around to writing my own impressions

  3. peter

    That pork loin has a good amount of fat and frenched perfectly. When I stayed with friends in London, it was in Clapham and we spent many boozy hours in neighborhood pubs. Good times.

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  5. Gourmet Chick

    A butchery class sounds great although I presume for most of Londoners with mini freezers it is more spectacle than practical. Your review does seem to be pretty negative on the finer detail of the actual food and wine and sounds a bit like you are trying hard to be as nice as you can be so it doesn’t really entice me to go I have to say. Beautiful snaps as always though.

  6. meemalee


    Love it, Helen!

  7. johanna

    i have been following adam byatt since he ran the original Thyme restaurant in clapham which i was in love with and so sad to see it closed… i didn’t find trinity equally amazing, but they do serve great food in relaxed surroundings, i haven’t been back in ages and maybe the next time i go, it’ll be for a masterclass, too… thanks for this post!

  8. shayma

    i think i must have mentioned a thousand times i dont eat pork, so pl forgive me for repeating it. but this doesnt prevent me from reading your post (and enjoying reading it! must have been so much fun to have gone there) and looking at your lovely photos. what a way to end the meal- w a gorgeous quince tatin. x shayma

  9. Tv Food and Drink

    What gorgeous photos! Thank you for the savory post! If I ever come to your neck of the woods, I hope to visit all these wonderful places you bring into my home through your blog.

  10. Helen

    Greedy Diva – Oh yes! I think the ciders and perrys would be wonderful. I haven’t tried many perry either so it would be very educational for me.

    Rob – Thanks! I look forward to reading your post.

    Peter – It was a beautiful piece of meat. Gloucester Old Spots are delicious – have you ever had any? My uncle keeps some and one year I had a freezer full of old spot belly – good times.

    Gourmet Chick – Well yes that did come up at the time. It was very interesting though and Adam did also give us a lot of other tips and information too during the session. As for the review, I wasn’t just trying to be nice – what I said is exactly what it was like. There were some absolutely brilliant elements to the food but then there were a few things that were less than perfect. Some of the food and wine matches felt a bit forced, as I said, but then the meal doesn’t usually come with those wines, it comes with the ciders and perrys.


    Johanna – Yeah exactly. The restaurant does have a lovely informal atmosphere and the service isn’t stuffy either.

    Shayma – How lovely of you to say – even though you would never go and wouldn’t be able to eat any of it!

    Tv Food and Drink – Thank you! The delights of South London await.

  11. Neil Davey

    Great post. Having had to pass on a recent pig-related feature, a butchery class is high on my list of priorities for 2010!

  12. Lizzie

    Mmm. Pig. I’m not a huge fan of cooked oysters either.

    ‘neglected crackling’? Dear oh dear oh dear. That’s just not right.

  13. Essex Eating

    Pig Masterclass at Trinity – Lucky you Helen, that looks like an amazing way to spend a few hours. Very Jealous.

  14. TheWinesleuth

    Seeing as I was your neighbour, I have to say, I was just saving the crackling for last! I think they should have served those crackling sticks instead of bread, can you imagine a cup full of ‘em instead of breadsticks…..mmmmmmmm

  15. Helen

    Neil – I would really like to have a go myself actually. I am lucky in that I’ve got a freezer with a few drawers so I reckon once it’s portioned up I could get it all in there if I throw everything else away! There’s only lime leaves, curry leaves and stock in there at the moment to be honest.

    Lizzie – I wasn’t content with just my own piece! I agree, I like my oysters raw. Just personal preference I guess.

    Dan – It was! I have to say it was brilliant.

    Denise – If it’s not all gone in five seconds then that’s neglected in my book ;)

  16. Niamh

    Oh, the pig masterclass was great, although I would love to have been hands on. Those sausages were just wonderful.

  17. Margaret

    Mmmm… you said perry! we often forget about it, but it’s delicious! must get some next time we do a shop!

    also, I just love that plate that looks lik a slice from a tree, what a BEAUTIFUL plate!!! what a gorgeous piece of wood!

  18. Douglas

    Excellent! Did you boil-up your Kilner jar yet?

  19. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    Wow, sounds like a great night Helen! I agree, it is hard to pass up anything to do with a pig! LOL!

  20. Foodycat

    I’ve never been to Clapham, but I would for the sake of a masterclass like that!

  21. Jeanne @ Cooksister!

    OMG, looks wonderful! I agree with you on the Gewurz/Rieslings – they are just divine. I bought some Trimbach Rieslings when I visited Alsace a couple of years ago – must dig them out methinks!

  22. Helen

    Niamh – Yeah it would have been great to get in there and actually have a go but I guess it just isn’t possible. Shame really. I may have to buy half a pig!

    Margaret – Yeah Perry is so delish. I should also be drinking more of it considering the attention I lavish upon cider.

    Douglas – Yep, trotters have been eaten and the jar now has something else in it. Fast worker, me.

    Jenn – Never!

    Foodycat – Well, exactly. It was a fabulous experience, I recommend trying it out.

    Jeanne – And you’ve still got them?! Blimey woman, that’s willpower.

  23. Ben P

    I went on a similar course last autumn in Borough Market called Farmer Sharp’s Mastering Meat Class, or something, and it was very poor value.

    Not unenjoyable, just nowhere near as good as this. We didn’t really learn much and just reading a few chapters of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Meat book was much better.

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