Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to a stunning countryside hotel, Four Seasons Hampshire. Their recently renovated restaurant and bar called Wild Carrot, was holding its first Seasonal Social of 2018, and I was delighted to be among the guests!
Seasonal Social are evening dining experiences designed to celebrate local ingredients, get a taste of the restaurant’s upcoming menu, and discover a hand-picked selection of the finest food and drink producers in the county.
Located in a stunning scenery of Hampshire countryside, and just around the corner from my house, this restored, historic Georgian manor house will guarantee to take your breath away!
Shortly after our arrival to this super chic and stylish hotel, we were greeted by ever so friendly Anni and Alie, and we were shown our way towards the Wild Carrot Restaurant and Bar.
We were then introduced to our venue for the evening- the restaurant very own private dining room, Fox Hollow. The room is absolutely soaked with charming and super stylish interior, just like the rest of the place, and it definitely has this quintessentially English feeling about it!
As the purpose of the whole event was to embrace the local produce, the evening started with a glass of Twisted Nose Gin from nearby Winchester Distillery, and we were introduced to the founder and maker behind this wonderful gin- Paul Bowler. Paul’s story was fascinating to listen to, and a great example of how, despite disbelief of many, you can really make your dreams come true, if you just persevere. Twisted Nose Gin has become extremely popular in recent years, and it’s for all the good reasons! Made with 10 different botanicals, one of which, is a famous, locally grown watercress (Alresford), it is ever so refreshing, yet perfectly balanced gin, guaranteed to quench even the biggest thirst!
After a delightful gin degustation, we have moved to the most anticipated part of the event- food. As mentioned previously, the main purpose of the event was to highlight the locally grown produce, and the focus was on venison and pear. However, as you know, being meet-free, the wonderful team being led by Chef Adam Fargin, was happy to accommodate my needs and I was offered an outstanding vegetarian menu.
To start, we were presented with a palette appetiser, watercress mousse with poached quail egg, saffron mayonnaise and pickled kohlrabi. And if that was anything to go by, I knew the rest of the meal will be just as elegant, as it was epic. Watercress mousse was fresh, light and ever so subtle- perfect appetiser, if you ask me.
Before our starters arrived, we were presented with two local wines, which, as explained by our extremely knowledgeable sommelier, were a perfect match to the meal. And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised about high quality of these, something I genuinely did not expect from English wines… we live and learn I guess!
Shortly after, we all were pleasantly surprised, as the executive chef, Dirk Giesselman himself, popped in to the room and introduced himself, as well as all the dishes that followed after. It was so great to see and hear a passionate chef speaking about his ideas behind the menu and its ingredients.
Moving onto the starter, I was presented with Rosary Goat’s Cheese and Potato Pressing with grilled baby leeks, caramelised pear, Heritage beetroot, roasted hazelnuts and walnut vinaigrette. It goes without a saying that it was absolutely mouthwatering, and one of the best presented starters I’ve ever had in my life.
That was followed by my main course, delicate, yet creamy and rich Wild Mushroom Risotto with truffled Brillat Savarin, crispy shallot rings, rocket and pine nuts. It was absolutely delicious, with hints of earthy flavours and scents of truffles, my taste buds have never been happier!
After the main course, memories of which still make me salivate, it was time for the dessert. Caramelised Pear Tart with Breton shortbread, Devonshire clotted cream and Calvados ice cream. It was a sensational combination of flavours, and I’m absolutely obsessed with pears, ever since… (watch this space).
The whole experience of the Seasonal Social at Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire have been outstanding. What surprised me the most, is how different the hotel and the restaurant actually is, to what many of us may think of it. Yes, it’s a luxury hotel in a middle of the English countryside, with an exceptional interior and surroundings, but it’s also a superb destination for a day trip (the grounds surrounding the hotel and a whole area are well known for its outstanding beauty), an afternoon tea or a mid-week dinner. The staff of the hotel and restaurant are an absolute delight and are ready to make you feel at home, and make sure even the smallest of your requests is fulfilled straight away. It’s approachable, friendly and not in a slightest pretentious, as some of the places in that industry can be.
If you ever happen to be in the area, you simply must visit it. The Seasonal Social events will be held every quarter at Wild Carrot Restaurant, and below you can find the dates of the next one. For any additional information or bookings, please visit The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire website
Future dates for Seasonal Socials at Wild Carrot:
Spring – Watercress and Rhubard – Thursday 19th April
Summer – Trout and Strawberry – Thursday 5th July
Autumn – Hog and Apple – Thursday 4th October
I hope you have enjoyed reading today’s post, and as always, let me know your thoughts!