WIN! An overnight stay, plus dinner and a complimentary bottle of champagne at The Swan in Bampton

The Swan, Bampton

The Swan, Bampton - Credit: Archant

A trip to an award-winning pub has ANDY COOPER agreeing with judges that the place does deserve all the accolades it receives

The Swan, Bampton

The Swan, Bampton - Credit: Archant

The secret to cracking crackling is, of course, love. The chef has to love where he sources his meat to ensure the pork is of the finest quality to crackle properly. The chef needs to cook the joint with love and tenderness to ensure it gets the time to form the crackling properly. The chef then needs to love seeing such a staple of traditional British fare on his menu.

There’s a lot of love at The Swan at Bampton and chef/proprietor Paul Berry is at the centre of it all. He’s a one man gastronomic guardian of service, standards and special flavours and his cosy, welcoming pub at the heart of this Mid Devon village is his showcase. The man is a dervish of detail and delivery, working his kitchen and pub/restaurant with equal gusto, keen to please his lucky punters.

And what talents they are. Any man who can create the pulled pork belly fritter with soy and plum sauce and the aforementioned crackling which I started with has me reaching for the Basildon Bond to nominate him for a gong in the Birthday Honours list. When he followed it up with a fillet of Brixham hake, rarebit, buttered leeks, tomato dressing and the fabulous twist of a bacon jam, it was all I could do not to jump in the car for London and demand a peerage for the man.

But that would have been to have missed out on our overnight stay and that would have meant a) missing the delights of a cosy, comfy, immaculate room, and b) foregoing a rather magnificent, fresh, flavoursome breakfast. So I stayed put and watched as the GFP* also raved about her options, carefully crafted by Paul personally for her, having checked what her vegetarian choices might be. And don’t run away with the idea this was treatment being reserved for her alone – Paul was as attentive towards and keen to please everyone in the packed room.

I’ve been bumping into Paul and partner Donna at various foodie awards for some while now and it’s no surprise to me now I have tried The Swan experience for myself. A special place run with love by truly special people.

* The Glamorous Fusspot accompanies me on all my food reviews.

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The team at The Swan have kindly offered one Devon Life reader the chance to win an overnight stay, plus dinner and a complimentary bottle of champagne in this special competition.

The winner will be notified after the closing date of 14 May. Term and conditions apply.

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