Living in Hampshire, United Kingdom, we are very lucky to have some stunning places dotted around our beautiful county. Set right in the heart of the English countryside and only 50 miles away from the centre of London, Four Seasons Hampshire is one of those quintessentially British countryside hotels that you fall in love with from the very first site.
Having visited the hotel for farmer’s market Sunday roast a few months ago, it was a real pleasure to receive the hotel’s invitation to attend their first Seasonal Socials event. Seasonal Socials is a dining experience from the hotel’s newly opened restaurant Wild Carrot 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. If you are a real foodie or just love and appreciate great tasting locally sourced food, this is THE place to be!
From the minute we stepped into the hotel, it felt like we were a part of the Four Seasons family – the staff were so welcoming, friendly and attentive. Even the hotel’s dog, the black Labrador Oliver Beckington, was greeting us at the door, wagging his tail. You can’t get a warmer welcome than this!
Our seasonal dining experience started with a refreshing gin cocktail from Winchester Distillery. Although I’m not a huge drinker these days, I really appreciate a good glass of gin and tonic, especially when the gin has been made with locally grown Alesford watercress, which gives it a slightly tingly peppery taste. Whilst savouring every sip of this fresh cocktail, I got a chance to meet the other guests before sitting down for a much anticipated four-course-dining experience in the exquisite charm of the private dining room Fox Hollow.
With the event taking place in February, the winter menu was in the limelight, featuring local venison and pear as the chosen seasonal ingredients. As I was carrying on with my ‘veganuary’ (vegan January), the chef was kind enough to put together a vegan-friendly menu for me. In fact, the executive chef himself, Dirk Gieselmann, came to greet us in the dining room and personally introduce the seasonal menu. I could feel how passionate and dedicated the chef was when talking about sourcing fresh local produce and making each seasonal ingredient the star of the plate.
The first course, grilled zucchini with quinoa and roasted pepper coulis, slightly reminded me of the ‘quinoa sushi’ that I made at home once before. Intricately rolled ‘parcels’ of quinoa, carrots and peppers was a great combination of subtle sweet flavours complimented so well by smokey and smooth roasted pepper coulis.
The second course, wild carrot salad with sesame & carrot dressing, was a real celebration of the seasonal vegetables. The crispy green watercress, crunchy carrots and radishes, perfectly seasoned with a subtly sweet dressing, rendered in a beautiful explosion of fresh flavours. An extra crunch from nuts and seeds added a new layer of texture to this humble dish. If I were to re-create this salad myself at home, I would have probably marinated the tofu in the dressing for a few hours to enhance its flavour a little more.
The third course, celeriac schnitzel, was the one that really stood out for me. Marinated breaded celeriac served on a bed of savoy cabbage and sautéed seasonal mushrooms with a final touch of a rich onion truffle gravy was the culmination of beautifully executed flavours coming together perfectly in one bowl.
My dessert plate featured a pear poached in red wine, which was served with coconut yoghurt and caramelised almond brittle – a delicious end to a masterfully executed meal. The richness of pear, the smoothness of coconut yoghurt and the sweet crunch of almond brittle was like a song of praise to the beautiful marriage of different textures.
As we didn’t get a chance to see much of the Four Seasons hotel that evening, it was a great excuse to come back for a coffee a few days later and have a good look around the hotel. With so much to offer for both children and adults (horse riding, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, wellness retreats), the Four Seasons Hampshire is a great destination for families, couples and four-legged friends too.
I was particularly excited to hear Alie from the hotel’s PR team talking about the spa and fitness facilities. Being a total fitness fanatic (as you might have learnt from reading my blog), I couldn’t stop admiring the hotel’s state of the art fitness studio and learn about the wellness classes and programmes the hotel has to offer. As a mum, I don’t always (read: hardly ever) find the time for myself, so a spa retreat is definitely going on my birthday wish list (a gentle nudge to my other half if he happens to be reading this post!)
Whether you’re heading out to Four Seasons Hampshire for a dining experience (I would thoroughly recommend Sunday Farmer’s Market buffet or quintessentially British Afternoon Tea) or if you’re lucky enough to get away for a weekend – there’s something there for everyone.
I hope you enjoyed following along my superb dining experience at Four Seasons Hampshire. If you happen to be in the area, do stop by for a hot brew or a refreshing cocktail – breathtaking views of the English countryside are guaranteed!
Thank you for stopping by. See you next week.
Disclaimer: I have NOT been sponsored to review the hotel. All opinions and views are strictly my own.