Showcasing the Four Seasons of Hampshire
A seasonal food event showcasing the county's best produce has just launched at The Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire. Winchester Bloggers was invited to the spectacular Wild Carott restaurant to experience the first ever Seasonal Social in an evening with bloggers who had traveled far and wide for the experience.
Having arrived back from a short break in the incredibly friendly and exciting Belfast (that’s another blog) in the afternoon, a quick change and we were on our way up the M3 to the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire to visit the new Wild Carrot restaurant.
Having never been to the Four Seasons Hampshire Hotel, we were excited to see what was in store. We were greeted by the lovely Alie, the Four Seasons PR manager who we met via the most recent Winchester Bloggers social. Such is Alie’s dedication and belief in the Four Seasons brand that she drove all the way to Winchester on a ghastly January night to meet us all, based on the strength of the community we have built in Winchester. It’s a testament to all of you involved in Winchester Bloggers that we’re attracting such esteemed attention and also a good reminder about the power of online and offline networking.
Alie introduced us to the stunning Wild Carrot restaurant, explaining that it has recently undergone a complete renovation. The rebuild has effectively doubled the size of the restaurant and the increased capacity means that the hotel is able to welcome more locals. Because of the size of the hotel and its popularity, it has previously been very difficult for locals to experience the food and ambiance. It’s a pleasingly organic reason for an expansion, and the name - taken from the wildflower which is abundant in the grounds of the hotel - rounds off the story nicely.
Part of attracting Hampshire residents and businesses to Wild Carrot is about making use of the incredible produce found and crafted in the surrounding area. Hence the reason for the Seasonal Social which poetically showcases the best of local Hampshire produce in the Four Seasons Hotel.
It's testament to the skill of the designers and builders that while Wild Carrot is ‘box fresh’, it has a classic and cosy feel that leads you to believe it’s been there for years. It’s certainly in keeping with the grandeur of the hotel complex, which performs the clever trick of feeling exclusive and high-end while being incredibly welcoming.
Before experiencing the menu, we were taken to the private dining room and introduced to the other bloggers who we’d be sharing the evening with. These included a number of our Winchester Bloggers such as Fit Foodie Nutter, Lucy in the Country and Life with Emily, plus 4 very successful London based bloggers.
First up, we heard from one of Winchester’s most successful local producers who explained the story of his most famous product - Twisted Nose gin. Paul Bowler is highly engaging and passionate about the business he started as recently as 2014 - Winchester Distillery.
Paul gave us a quick history of the Distillery, including the archaic laws that meant his dream almost ended before it began, how he chose to use watercress as the main flavour of his gin and the future which will see an expansion into whisky and rum. Naturally, as we listened to Paul, we were all sampling a Twisted Nose gin and tonic. I’ve had it before, but I’m always stunned by how many flavours Paul’s gin offers without requiring anything other than a classic tonic mixer.
After Paul, it was time to sample the menu as introduced by executive chef Dirk Gieselmann, who explained that the first Seasonal Social was constructed around two ingredients: venison and pear. The first dish used it’s ingredients sparingly to ensure we paid attention to each flavour. The combination of goats cheese, caramelised pear, beetroot and smoked duck breast was delicious - setting the stage perfectly for the remaining dishes.
The main course was one we’ll not forget anytime soon. Perfectly cooked venison, generously seasoned and portioned was set off by some of the most delicious potato, this dish was close to perfection. Finally, dessert: a beautifully crumbly, sticky pear tart paired with a smooth ice cream.
The menu, service, ambiance, and company made for an incredibly memorable evening and we left utterly satisfied and reinvigorated. It’s great to see such a renowned, global hotel brand such as four Seasons embracing local produce, local demands, and local people. We thoroughly recommend Wild Carrot and the Seasonal Socials - great concept, brilliantly executed.
Future Seasonal Socials at Wild Carrot:
· Spring (April 19) – Watercress and Rhubarb.
· Summer (July 5) – Trout and Strawberry
· Autumn – (October 4) Hog and Apple
£58 per person for four courses and welcome cocktail. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
Thanks to Alie and all the staff at Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire for inviting us, plus our fellow bloggers for making it such a memorable evening.