Gather - River Cottage ...
The Grade-II listed, former Abbey Mill is one of the most charming venues for dinner in Winchester. Wood beams, oak floors, comely lighting, the restaurant's decor and ambience makes for a perfect dinner spot if you're in the city.
We arrived and were greeted by the lovely Josie Curran, marketing manager at River Cottage, who introduced us to Gill, head chef at River Cottage for over 12 years. Gather is Gills first stand alone book (he's helped in creating all the River Cottage cook books alongside Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall), bursting with recipes inspired by the landscape he's grown up and lived in.
Gill is charming, passionate about sustainable food and recipes, he was relaxed about the evening, we chatted to him about the book and the evening ahead.
At our table for two, firstly Gill gave a talk, a bit on his background, his career and the book and it's inspirations before our starters were served.
A choice of three nibbles from the book. Crackling with a delicious damson jam, goats cheese with rhubarb and lovage - a gorgeous combination, and crispy squirrel with cauliflower and capers ... yep, squirrel.
Now, I'm what I describe as 'borderline vegetarian' (or as my Dad prefers to call it, a hypocrite 😆) I'm not a massive meat eater, and as i've got older I'm eating less and less red meat, but I'm polite enough to eat it if served to me, but the squirrel was a bit too much of an ask for me!
Ridiculous really, as Gill himself points out, squirrels are culled in massive numbers and dumped in land fill, which is such a waste of a sustainable and ethical food source ... But still, it wasn't for me! Jen assures me it was absolutely delicious, it resembled crispy duck and apparently tasted similar.
Two hearty, full flavoured choices of mains, wild boar with beans and salted pollock with potatoes, cream and marjoram. With sides of red onion and pear with crispy puy lentils - divine!!
Finished off with a mouthwatering slice of honey cake with cream, it was truly scrumptious! I can't wait to have a go at the honey cake and the damson jam at home.
All in all a massive feed up and a thoroughly enjoyable night. We were stuffed. The food was luscious, the book is beautiful, and I can't wait to try some of Gather's recipes.