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A FOOD TOUR OF THE FOREST OF DEAN

I don’t know about you, but a travel experience for me isn’t complete without sampling at least one example of local cuisine. Thankfully the organisers of the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley bloggers weekend agree with me, and with a whole host of restaurants, cafes and food producers on their books, I was very pleased that we were treated to some great eats in between the adrenaline fuelled activities they had planned for us.

With the rest of the bloggers in Puzzlewood. Photo David Broadbent.

We ate in four different but equally wonderful establishments, sampling what we were informed was something of the best of the food on offer in the Forest of Dean area. Each business did an excellent job of catering for our large group (around 18 most of the time), allowing us the freedom to wander around and take photographs at our leisure and making sure we had enough food and drink to keep us very happy. And as chatting over food is one of the best ways to get to know each other, it was great to spend time in different places sitting next to different bloggers and business owners during the weekend.

True that! Found in The Farmers Boy Inn.

If you are spending a day or two in the Forest of Dean area I would highly recommend each of these to keep you well fed in amongst all the outdoor activities…

Gelato at Green & Jenks, Monmouth

A beautifully lit and decorated store front awaited us as we arrived at Green & Jenks, a gelato house in Monmouth that prides itself on serving handmade ice cream from their own in-house creamery using locally sourced ingredients. But we were there for more than just a scoop in a cone. This was Friday night, and we were here for a special “Gin & Gelato” evening.

In Green & Jenks. Photo David Broadbent.

As our first opportunity to meet each other (and find out what activities we would be getting up to on the Saturday!), we piled into the shop noisy with chatter. The friendly staff greeted us with freshly made cocktails (or a mocktail, in my case), and showed us to the beautiful Georgian Gallery on the first floor where we were seated ready for dinner.

Choosing my cheese. Photo David Broadbent.

We were presented with an amazing spread of charcuterie, including some local wild boar salami, locally produced cheese and chutneys, some tartlets, locally baked bread, and various superfood salads. After a long drive and some time exploring the woods at Puzzlewood I couldn’t help but go back for seconds, it was all so tasty.

But of course the main event was the gelato. We were each allowed to choose our own sundae; I chose a scoop each of the mint chocolate gelato and the crème egg gelato (a current special for Easter), along with some meringue bits and marshmallows. It was so good. It was definitely gelato rather than ice cream, had loads of flavour, and went down an absolute treat. I may have struggled a little bit thanks to having seconds of the main course, but I didn’t care.

Mmmmm gelato. Photo David Broadbent.

Cocktails and ice cream. Oh yes.

Next time I’m in Monmouth I will definitely take whoever is with me to Green & Jenks for a scoop in a cone.

Green & Jenks: http://www.greenandjenks.com/

Hot Pot Pottery

After a morning whizzing (and wheezing) around the famous mountain bike trails in the Forest of Dean, we headed to Hot Pot Pottery at The House of Bread in Christchurch for lunch. Exhausted and hungry, we were delighted to tuck into homemade leek and potato soup, warm bread rolls and a range of freshly made salads. I wish I had the time (and ingredients) to make salads like this at home; healthy(ish) eating can be awesome when you get the recipes right.

A slice of super light (but not quite so healthy) Victoria sponge for dessert topped it off nicely and made sure we were ready for the afternoon’s excitement. The normal menu at Hot Pot Pottery is pretty similar to what we ate, but rather than a buffet customers can expect plated salads, sandwiches and cakes served to their table.

Buffet at Hot Pot Pottery. 

The tearoom at Hot Pot Pottery was lovely; a long and thin open plan area with pottery for sale and a wood burning stove to keep things cosy. Owner Katie gave us a quick demonstration in her workshop behind the tea room, making a perfectly formed jug in just a couple of minutes as we gathered around and shoved our cameras in her face; a true professional at work! Apparently, Katie runs pottery classes here; it’s probably a little far to go for a Saturday afternoon but certainly something to consider if you’ve always fancied throwing a pot or learning a new skill.

Hot Pot Pottery: http://hotpotpottery.co.uk/

The Farmers Boy Inn

For our evening meal on the Saturday we were taken to The Farmers Boy Inn at Longhope, a seventeenth century coaching house that has been transformed into a lovely cosy pub with award winning pies. Oh yes, “award winning”, in fact five of their pies had won Silver and Bronze awards in the British Pie Awards the previous evening, so we knew we would be in for a treat.

We had ordered from the home-cooked from locally-sourced ingredients menu ahead of time, which is always a risk as sometimes you just don’t know what you’ll fancy on the day, but I think I did pretty well with my choices. I had:

In other words, I had a cheese souffle to start, pie with chips and veg for main, and apple crumble and custard for pud. The highlight was most definitely the pie; I didn’t really need anything else but it’s nice to be treated to three courses of deliciousness. To be honest I’d have preferred the crumble in a larger bowl, it would have made it a lot easier to eat with my jug of custard, but that small comment aside the whole thing was just wonderful.

If we head back to the Forest of Dean, which we will, you can be sure of that, I will definitely head back to the Farmers Boy Inn – the setting, the food and service were all excellent.

The Farmers Boy Inn: https://farmersboyinn.co.uk/

Forest of Dean Hog Roast Co.

After wandering around the magic of Puzzlewood with the rest of the bloggers, we ended up in a little nook overlooking the bright green moss covered woodland, with a tarp to protect us from the drizzle, where we were presented with the tastiest hog roast I’ve had for a very long time. Apparently wild boar are a problem in the Forest of Dean, well I’ve helped by eating three of them in three days!

And it smelt and tasted amazing. Photo David Broadbent.

The Forest of Dean Hog Roast Co. provided our feast; I chatted to the couple serving our food and they informed me that the pig we were eating was one reared on their own farm. It’s good to know where your food has come from; ethical meat with a clear farm to fork (or bread roll in this case) journey is always the best choice. And very tasty it was too; we had bread rolls with slow cooked pork, stuffing and apple sauce, and of course there was crackling too.

Forest of Dean Hog Roast Co: http://www.forestofdeanhogroast.co.uk/

As you can see we ate really rather well during our activity weekend. Well you can’t expect me to tear around on bikes, squeeze through rocks and point a gun on target without some suitable sustenance to keep me going!

Have you eaten at an awesome restaurant in the Forest of Dean area? Let me know, as I will definitely be back for more exploring and would love to check out some more places next time.

Read about my stay at Puzzlewood House.

#DeanWyeBloggers was an activity weekend organised by Forest of Dean & Wye Valley Tourism to help promote the area. I was invited along with a number of other bloggers and had an absolutely fantastic weekend with them. I have been asked to follow up my visit with a blog post or two, but know that I always write from experience and with my own opinions.

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