Dorset food and drink – a weekend away with fellow food bloggers, sampling the best of the county’s provisions.
I was delighted to be asked by holidaycottages.co.uk to join a group of fellow food bloggers to enjoy a weekend in Dorset, sampling local food and drink. I mean, who’d say no to that?!
I love going to new areas and trying local food and drink in farmer’s markets, small shops and festivals. Dorset is known for it’s fine cheeses, ice creams, wine and ales so I knew that we would be in for a treat.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I was very surprised to see that the ‘cottage’ was actually a massive house! Ranmoor is set in beautiful fields, surrounded by Alpacas, ducks and rolling hills.
My room had a massive comfy bed, ensuite and large balcony overlooking the considerable grounds, including pool and trampolines! After some enthusiastic bouncing, the weary bloggers were in need of a drink…
As our group of 16 food bloggers inspected the beautiful house and grounds, our hosts Emma and Sarah showed us some of the local drinks they had for us, including Cerne Abbas Brewery ales, Dorset Nectar cider (including their lovely elderflower cider) and Conker Gin – a copper pot distilled Dorset dry gin.
A huge highlight was the vodka and cheese tasting. Black Cow Vodka is made of milk, which rather surprised us all! Inspired by a nomadic Siberian tribe’s vodka made from mare’s milk, Black Cow uses the milk from it’s West Dorset dairy farm. The milk is separated, with the curd turned into cheddar cheese and the whey fermented into a milk beer that is then distilled and triple filtered into this smooth and creamy-tasting vodka. We sipped the vodka neat, then tasted the cheese, which completely mellowed the vodka. It is really rather amazing.
Then it was time for dinner. For us food bloggers, that meant photos first, obvs. Dorset Fine Dining came and cooked us all a stunning three course meal. My vegetarian menu started with feta and fresh mint pastillas, followed by a Moroccan chick pea and aubergine stew with Israeli couscous and vegetables including a wonderfully-spiced braised red cabbage. For the dessert, I had gorgeous chocolate eclair filled with mocha custard and topped with a dark chocolate sauce and gold leaf. It was a delicious meal served by very friendly staff and we all enjoyed having time to chat over many bottles of local Furleigh Estate wine and sparkling wine. The award-winning wines were truly excellent and all of them were made in Dorset, from Dorset-grown grapes. I tried the sparkling wines, which were all outstanding, as well as the beautifully crisp whites and aromatic pink still wines.
The next morning an enchanting mist greeted us as we woke, causing a mesmerising stillness to envelope the cottage and hillside. Bleary-eyed bloggers slowly gathered in the large kitchen to tuck into the breakfast hampers of local eggs, butter, honey and other treats. There was also plenty of Dorset Tea and locally hand-roasted Reads Coffee.
I find a misty morning calls for copious cups of beautiful coffee, sipped on dewy grass whilst wearing sequins, no?
That afternoon, we went on an excursion to the nearby Goldhill Organic Farm. We were very warmly greeted and taken to tour some of the Soil Association approved raised beds and polytunnels, learned about the history of the farm and were given some tips on growing organically. One thing that really surprised me was that they grow goji berries at Goldhill! I had no idea that any were grown in the UK.
We were then treated to a beautiful vegan chilli and fresh flatbreads, made on site by the cafe, Tea and Sympathy. We learned about Goldhill’s fantastic plans for recipe boxes, plus soup and juice boxes. Then we went across to the cafe for some lovely Dorset apple cake, coffee and chat.
Back at the cottage, Bethellbridge Bakery had come and put on a pretty afternoon tea for us all. We somehow managed to find room to devour the lovely sandwiches and cakes over tea, while playing some very entertaining quiz games.
Dinner that night was a variety of Dorset Pies, including a fantastic spicy bean pie, served with Goldhill Organic vegetables. We washed it down with cider and more wine, then finished with Purbeck ice cream, including a lovely beetroot sorbet. We were happily stuffed by this stage. Yes, that was a lot of amazing Dorset food and drink for one day!
After another comfortable night’s sleep, we woke to a sunny morning and after bubble and squeak from the leftovers, we all set off back home, with all of the above lovely Dorset food and drink products in our goody bags.
We sampled so many lovely foods, so now I know why Dorset is firmly on the foodie map. I can’t wait to go again.
Check out all the fun on social media: #HCBloggerTrip
Disclosure: Holidaycottages.co.uk invited me on the complimentary Dorset food and drink weekend away. A blog post was not required and all opinions are my own. The first image is courtesy of Shutterstock. The second is courtesy of holidaycottages.co.uk.