One of the joys of the New Forest Food Festival is the chance it gives to visitors to really get to grips with the area’s quirky side.
Like our Pannage pigs. The free-roaming porkers were turned out on September 12 and have spent the past two months Hoovering up the acorns, chestnuts and beech mast that cover the forest floor at this time of year.
Not only does that lead to some of the UK’s most sought-after pork; meat which is marbled, tastes exotically of nuts and can be said to come from truly happy pigs. It also means that far fewer ponies and donkeys will die from eating acorns, which are poisonous to them (the pigs are smart and just spit the toxic skin out!).
Catch up with our Pannage Pigs all over the New Forest. A splendid and unique sight within the UK – you’d probably have to travel to Spain to see anything similar – they are harmless although should never be approached or touched.
A New Forest landmark, the Beaulieu Road Pony Sales Yard, makes a unique venue for one of our free festival events. Primarily used by Commoners (the owners of the ponies in the Forest) to sell their ponies by auction, on November 2 it’ll be home to ‘A Taste of the Outdoors’ – where you can learn about the Forest’s animal culture from those in the know, and try some delicious street food cooked by top local chefs.
Aside from the serious cheffy business of beautifully tasting dishes at some of the Forest’s top restaurants, we also welcome comedian George Egg, the Anarchist Cook, to the Festival. Dissatisfied with the quality of room service food while touring the UK’s comedy clubs George embarked on a project to take matters into his own hands. The result is a surreal mix of stand-up, striking innovation and extreme multitasking – George prepares a three-course meal using just the equipment you’ll find in a hotel room. And if you want to, you can taste it at the end. Catch him as part of Festival Week at the Forest Arts Centre in New Milton on November 2.
And, if you fancy doing something a little more energetic – but still involving food and drink! – book Paddle to the Pub, on Wednesday November 2, at 12.30pm or on Sunday November 6, at 3pm. Join New Forest Activities in Canadian canoes on the beautiful Beaulieu River for a paddle to the Master Builder’s at Buckler’s Hard. With an array of wildlife to be seen you’ll enjoy a unique journey to the pub for some amazing food and drink.
Another lovely local tradition is the Apple Swap arranged every year by New Forest Cider. They will swap apples for cash – 15 pence per kilo – or the equivalent in their delicious cider or apple juice (because there is a limit to how much apple pie that you can eat yourself). All you need to do is bring your apples – so long as they’re not rotten – to New Forest Cider at Burley and they will do the rest. Pop in during Festival week.
For more information on over 120 events happening during the New Forest Food & Drink Festival Week, visit www.thenewforest.co.uk/newforestfoodfest
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