We are so fortunate to be living in a country that gives us true to season climates, enabling us to enjoy the gorgeous hot summers and the less desired winters. However, I find each seasons contributes to the delicious home grown produce that we can collectively grow as a country or even locally for that matter. I’m all for supporting local farmers, organic crops and producing the best possible ingredients for us to cook with.
I recently visited the gorgeous Four Seasons Hampshire to try out their new seasonal socials concept, something totally different and innovative, which is great for the hotel to support. This new quarterly concept has encouraged the chefs at the newly refurbished Wild Carrot restaurant within the hotel to get creative with their cooking. Their role is to bring together a range of dishes for a 4-course meal using two main ingredients that are available each season. Best of all, they have to be locally sourced within a certain mileage of the hotel too. The Seasonal Socials are a snippet of the kind of dishes that will be available on the Wild Carrot menu for the rest of the season.
Restaurant Chef Adam Fargin had chosen the two main ingredients to be venison and pear for the Winter season, but to give you a head ups for the future Seasonal Socials the main ingredients will be Watercress and Rhubarb for Spring which will take place on Thursday 19th April, Trout and Strawberry for Summer on Thursday 5th July and Hog and Apple for Autumn on 4th October. There are a few dates to get into your diary and with it being only 50 minutes train from London, it makes for the perfect start to a long weekend staycation.
The dinner takes place in warm and styling private dining room, Fox Hollow, which is adjacent to the main Wild Carrot restaurant and open kitchen, but keeps it a completely private experience.
For the first Seasonal Social, Wild Carrot teamed up with local gin distillery, Winchester Distillery who are the producers of Hampshire Gin’s and creatively brought together a perfect welcome drink for our meal. The gin of choice was by Twisted Nose who made the most perfect watercress gin, which is a majorly source-able ingredient in the local area. The gin was mixed with a fresh tonic and a slice of tangy pink grapefruit to infuse into it. Absolutely perfect!
Keeping the theme of watercress from the gin, we were served a watercress mouse with poached quail egg, saffron mayonnaise and pickled kohlrabi. It was fresh and absolutely delicious, the flavours came through naturally without any needed seasoning. This is what good quality ingredients can do to alter the colour and taste of a dish.
To accompany our meal, we were served a selection of locally grown and produced wines too. We tried out the Surrey Gold white wine from Denbies Wine Estate, which was absolutely delicious with mineral, vanilla and buttery notes. It felt so great to be able to support all kinds of locals producers from those that grew the ingredients to the local alcohol producers by attending these Seasonal Socials by Four Seasons Hampshire.
The starter for the evening with Rosary goat’s cheese and potato pressing served with grilled baby leeks, caramelised pear, heritage beetroot, roasted hazelnuts and walnut vinaigrette. I never knew goat’s cheese could be cooked but also taste so delicious being cooked too. It was a real game changer for me, especially with the sweet, tangy and nutty flavours that came through from the rest of the ingredients.
The main dish of the evening was Salisbury venison loin with red cabbage and apple pureé, salsify, potato terrine and spiced game sauce. The rich venison was cooked medium but it was extremely tender, it just melted in your mouth. The potato terrine was the perfect accompaniment and the apple, cabbage and salsify flavours complimented the meat so well.
To the right of me, Binny who was also experiencing the evening to had the vegetarian option of wild mushroom risotto served with truffled Brillat Savarin, crispy shallot rings, rocket and pine nuts. Big thumbs up from Binny for this dish.
For dessert, there was a gorgeous caramelised pear tart, served with shortbread, clotted cream and apple brandy ice cream for all the guests, which I had a lot of envy over. As I am wheat intolerant, I wasn’t able to have the pear tart but I felt it would have been worth the consequences to get my teeth stuck into that buttery, sweet deliciousness.
Alternatively, the chefs put together a lovely dessert for me of red wine poached pear with coconut yoghurt, dark chocolate chards and caramelised almonds. It was the perfect finish to the meal with a real mix of sweet and savoury notes throughout the dish. It definitely left me feeling extremely satisfied after what was a delectable dinner affair.
Luckily we didn’t have to go far, just up a few flight of stairs to experience the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel for its entirety. However, there will be more about that in my next blog post.
I urge you all to escape the hustle and bustle of London or travel up to Fleet and experience a seasonal social at Wild Carrot for yourself, i’m sure it will be a meal you will not forget anytime soon.
Until next time…