When I moved to my flat by Victoria Park I didn’t know a whole lot about the wider area. I may have vaguely heard of Victoria Park Village, and probably agreed with the people that think it’s a silly name, while recognising that it does look like a village square (it really reminds me of Tideswell the way I remember that town from my early years). I knew about Lovebox, Field Day, Regent’s Canal and that was about it.
It took me a while to realise it was there, but when I realised it was on like Donkey Kong. The Ginger Pig is a renowned butcher’s with about half a dozen shops dotted around London, one of which just so happens to be in Victoria Park Village, about a ten minute walk from me straight across the park. They famously supply Hawksmoor with their exceptional beef, and are renowned for the quality of everything they do.
Now, normally these pieces by me are essentially a restaurant review. This being a butcher, they don’t have table service, or seats, or any of that stuff. As such, this is more a piece of art criticism. Because, make no mistake, this sausage roll is a work of art. If you have been raised on Gregg’s and believe those to be in the same arena, please leave. The Ginger Pig Sausage Roll is a masterpiece on a par with Michaelangelo’s David, only meatier. Although I don’t think David was prone to comparable flaking. Imagine if you will a small fist. Not a child, no, not that small. But not an adult’s clenched hand either, that would be absurd. Now imagine this fist to be made of the finest, perfectly seasoned sausage meat you have ever even imagined it possible to create. All encased in a magnificent pastry, which makes a tiny proportion of the magnificent whole. This my friends, this is what I am talking about.
It’s not for the faint of heart. Or indeed probably for anyone with anything approaching a heart condition, the Ginger Pig’s response to someone online asking for how many calories are in one was along the lines of “If you’re asking, then it’s too many for you”. My suspicion is that it’s not as high as you’d suspect – they are massive things, but fill you for hours and hours, and while they are no salad-substitute, for the most part this is meat, rather than the pastry-intensive competitors it has out there.
The standard sausage roll comes in at £3.50, with various variations on the theme being £4, and I’m yet to have one that is better than the original (although the pork & stilton iteration is pretty special). I can imagine quite a few people are thinking “£3.50 for a sausage roll, that’s insane…” Well, Wilkes888 did the maths and worked out that to get an equivalent amount of sausage roll meat from Gregg’s would cost more than that. And of course, their “meat” is a weird grey mush, presumably from the worst sort of factory-farmed pork, whereas these are made from free-range, rare-breed pork. The filling here is deliciously juicy, and seasoned with a wonderful mix of herbs, with every bite leading to what can only be described as a mouthgasm. Savoury, mouth-watering delight with every bite, the excellent all-butter pastry perfectly complementing what lies within. Bear in mind that your average street-food stall happily charges £7 or thereabouts for their wares – this is as good as anything any of those places will sell you, and will fill you up for at least as long, it’s a beast of a sausage roll, each one clocking in around a quarter of a kilogram! That’s bigger than a half-pound burger…
The Independent described this as “more a minced Wellington“, and they have a point. This is unlike any other sausage roll I’ve seen elsewhere, and really stands apart not just on it’s sheer heft, but by dint of its clear quality. To many the humble sausage roll is not a respectable member of the food kingdom, just a cheap and cheerful way of filling a hole, but this wonder deserves a place at the very top table.
I have been toying with a semi-vegetarianism of sorts for the last 7 months (more on that in a future piece), but there are certain things which make it hard for me to imagine life completely without meat, and this is right at the top of that list. It’s not something you’d want to have every day (well, actually, I would love to, but that would necessitate a lot more time at the gym/in a darkened room feeling shame and guilt), but as an occasional treat this is probably the best value food you can get in London as far as I’m concerned.