Native New Forest Food
We’re so lucky to have a world of flavour on our doorstep. The bountiful New Forest provides the freshest, most delicious local produce – the foundation of our dishes at The Bell Inn. The area’s native ingredients are varied, too; from the land, the sea and the air, The New Forest provides exquisite riches for our chefs to prepare.
Pigs are a common sight during pannage, but local pig farming is a year-round affair. The meat from happy, well-fed pigs is noticeably better in quality, texture and flavour than the mass-produced alternative.
New Forest pork is richly flavoured by the acorns that the free-roaming pigs gobble up during pannage, making it some of the best tasting meat in the world. It’s used to make a world of sausages, charcuterie and fine cuts – all produced locally.
Chicken and Eggs
The humble roast chicken is undeniably one of the greatest foods in history. So simple, tasty and satisfying – with its juicy meat and crispy skin. Just the thought of a perfectly seasoned and cooked piece of it is enough to make your mouth water.
But today’s supermarket chickens are nothing like those you’d find in a butcher shop in the 1950s. In just a matter of decades, the genetic makeup of the chickens we eat has been transformed by modern farming practices.
Of the 23 billion or so chickens in the world at any given time, only a tiny handful are free range or from traditional farms – even though this produces the happiest, healthiest and best tasting chickens and eggs.
Thankfully, New Forest chickens and eggs are traditionally reared – in extraordinary variety and exceptional quality. Local producers are dotted all around, and you’ll likely spot signs for eggs up and down rural routes through the forest. Not only does the old mindset make for delicious meat and unbelievable eggs – our area’s traditional forest values mean that hens and roosters are happy and healthy.
Fish and Seafood
The Solent might not be the most exotic seaside location in the world – but it is beautiful. It’s bountiful, too, and the edges of the forest that face the sea draw on this diverse and delicious offering.
Sea bass and mackerel are seasonally available, as are flounder and plaice. Migrating sea trout are a summer speciality in the waters of neighbouring regions, and cod can be found further out in deeper waters.
There’s even shellfish to be had from the shallow tidal pools – if the birds don’t get them first. All this variety, flavour and freshness is thanks to the forest’s close proximity to the sea.
Fruit and Vegetables
There’s more to be found besides meat and fish. Mushrooms grow throughout the forest, and if you know what you’re picking (being careful to avoid poisonous and harmful varieties), you can have a very fruitful day of mushroom picking in the woods. Speaking of fruit – the strawberries, blackberries and cherries grown in The New Forest area are perfect for jams and preserves, where they commonly end up.
As for veg, growers are everywhere; from small back gardens to full farms, there’s a year-round supply of gorgeous root veg – and seasonal treats keep things interesting through the calendar.
The New Forest really does provide everything food lovers could dream of. It’s all here, always fresh and always delicious – especially when our chefs get their hands on it!