Friday, 10 August 2012
New Forest adventures and The Pig, hotel and restaurant of dreams
Last weekend this little piggy went to the New Forest. I stayed at a really lovely bed and breakfast called Cottage lodge in beautiful Brockenhurst, where ponies have right of way and the sun seems to shine all day (though maybe we were lucky!).
We travelled down by train, leaving a very red, white and blue Waterloo (lots of Olympic supporters dressed in their best). We made sure we were armed with some very British drinks- dandelion and burdock- and some very Russian vodka, for a little train tipple- train tipples being an essential part of a weekend bolting out of London in my opinion.
Having been welcomed at our lovely B&B with coffee and cake- and having watched Rebecca Adlington battle to bronze- we ventured out to what we thought would be a cute local pub. But no! it was a very relaxed but very lovely restaurant called The Thatched cottage where we had Venison (y-um) and this selection of chocolate delights- the best being the white chocolate brownie- which looks yellow here but wasn't in real life.
The next morning, after a lovely full English including poriddge and fruit (and eggs and bacon, clearly) we ventured into the forest as we clearly needed to walk off the vast ammount of calories consumed! We did about ten miles and saw ponies and deer. We got slightly lost and very muddy, we popped to a farmer's market, had a Pimms and saw some cricket. It was all exactly what you'd expect and it was lovely.
Then it was time for a little nap, an Olympic check in (it was super Saturday after all) and then for the most important part of the weekend The Pig Hotel
The Pig was like a dream. You drive into the forest and up a small, tree lined track and then suddenly you are on a much grander drive way up to a beautiful Georgian looking house, the kind you dream of owning but know you probably never will. The Pig is totally luxurious but utterly relaxed. On entering the restaurant, which is filled with local flowers and herbs, my friend and I both remarked this is the kind of place you'd dream of getting married- I've never felt that before.
Dinner was wonderful- and I think for the quality remarkable value. You would pay what we paid in any mediocre gastro pub in London and this food was incredible- and I'd just been to lunch at a Michelin starred restaurant the day before which the Pig put to shame. Everything is from their grounds or very local- they list the distances in miles- they also had organic wines and lots of British wine.
To start I had bone marrow, my first bone marrow- it was delicious but is clearly not for vegetarians or those with vegetarian leanings! My friend had foraged fritters which were battered flowers, vegetables and fish from the local area- sublime. For our main courses I had a pork chop with apple and celeriac mash and greens from their garden (which reminded me of greens from my Grandmother's garden, fresh just picked vegetables are so much more wonderful than you remember if aren't lucky enough to have them often). For the blonde it was scallops- which she said were so good she might prefer them to sex, though I'm not sure she'd let me hold her to it!!!
But it was pudding that sealed the deal for me. I had a kind of tarte tartin case filled with clotted cream with honey- which was reduced to a lighter consistency. This casing was filled with fresh gooseberries- those rare and beautiful green gems of the English garden (which were dressed in booze of some kind!). I'm not sure I've ever had such a good British dessert ever. My friend had the frozen terrine- also delicious but for me it was all about the gooseberries.
We then adjourned to the bar where we thought we'd have one of the cocktails, elderflower, gin, apple, yes please. However we decided what we'd really fancy was an Irish coffee- which wasn't on the menu. No matter the said and I thought we'd get a perfectly nice Irish coffee but no! a waiter came with a special tray and prepared the coffees in front of us like a little show- then everyone else in the bar wanted coffees!
The next day I went on a 60 foot yacht, which I can report is a very good way of blowing away any kind of hangover or cobwebs. We sailed around the solent for about six hours, soaking up sunshine and learning how to tie knots and turn boats- I'm not very good at either but it was lots of fun! Then it was to a very old, very pretty pub in Hamble to see the very last of the tennis and back on the train home! weekends away feel so much longer than weekends at home.
Thank- you Hampshire for being beautiful!