This trip was as the result of a competition I won on the blog Wanderlust Chloe. The prize was a night at a hotel in the New Forest, as part of the New Forest Food & Drink Festival, and as well as the stay it included two places at the "Steak and Pie" evening at our hotel, The White Buck.
The drive to the New Forest yesterday was pretty miserable, in pouring rain, with me sitting in the passenger seat whingeing because I couldn't see properly, having just had my annual digital retinal eye exam, and Mark must have felt like turning back. But when we reached the hotel and walked into the cosy reception area, equipped with armchairs and a blazing log fire, all the stress drained away.
We were shown to our "cosy" room, tiny but comfortable and well appointed (and extra brownie points for the flask of fresh milk provided for our tea) and had chance to relax and change (and for my sight to return to normal) before dinner.
Here is the menu - notice that the dishes were paired with beers rather than wines.
And here are the dishes. You'll have to excuse the quality of the photos - I was snapping them on my phone in flickering candlelight, and was far too eager to get on and eat to concentrate on taking good pictures!
|Parsnip and Honey Veloute, Blue Vinney beignets|
The soup was delicious, as was the beignet - I think a big bowl of this soup and a mound of beignets would make a wonderful lunch after a winter morning's walk!
|Venison carpaccio, blackberry compote, sourdough crouton|
The carpaccio looked beautiful when it arrived, but I forgot to take a photo until it was half eaten! There was a lovely hint of caraway in the compote.
|Salt baked Romsey rainbow trout, crab tartare, beetroot purée, watercress|
This was my favourite dish of the whole meal - so much so that I wolfed it down before I had chance to take a photo, and they had to bring me the spare from the kitchen to take a picture of. The trout and crab were light, delicate and delicious and a perfect pairing with the beetroot and watercress.
|Fillet steak, Golden Pride braised ox cheek pie, rosemary fondant potato, pumpkin purée, girolles, bordelaise sauce|
And this was Mark's favourite, for me only slightly beaten by the fish course. The steak was really delicious - fillet can sometimes be a little tasteless compared to fattier cuts, but not this one! And the pie was perfection with thin, crisp pastry enclosing unctuous mouthwateringly tender meat.
|Apple and quince frangipane tart, Lemon and polenta sponge, Dark chocolate and kirsch delice with cherry granita|
Yes, THREE puddings! As a diabetic I don't normally eat dessert, but I couldn't resist tasting all three, and somehow the chocolate delice magically disappeared. Can you imagine how wonderful it was to somebody who hasn't eaten dessert for over 5 years?
We were offered far more beers than those listed on the menu - in fact over the course of the meal we sampled ELEVEN different beers! We could, had we been big beer drinkers, have demolished all this lot between the two of us:
In fact although we sampled them all, we probably actually drank a total of around a pint each all evening, out of which Mark has discovered a new favourite and we've made some plans for our Christmas shopping.
The evening was accompanied by music from the FB Pocket Orchestra, a talented trio who play a mixture of jazz and ragtime music, and had brought a couple of excellent dancers with them to entertain us. The style and volume of the music were just right to encourage a relaxed evening without drowning out conversation.
You might think that after eating all that, we wouldn't have wanted any breakfast the next morning - but you'd be wrong! This was just TOO delicious to resist
This morning the weather was totally different, the New Forest looked beautiful in the autumn sunshine and we had a lovely drive around, stopping in Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst to look at the ponies (for my non UK friends, the New Forest is famous for having hundreds of ponies wandering free around the area, totally unphased by the tourists who crowd around to see them.)
It's been a wonderful mini break, it feels as if we've had a whole holiday, and perhaps now we really won't need to eat for a week!