Sunday, 6 August 2017

Visit Winchester: A foodies paradise (with gin !)

Winchester is a place I know a little from visiting with mother-in-law for a celebratory afternoon tea. I also know it a bit from studying history at Uni. What I didn't know is that it is a big cultural destination and even has festivals and cultural ambassadors for the city. Visit Winchester invited a few bloggers to come and experience what they have to offer and there is so much to tell that this is the first of two posts I'l be writing about it.

Historic letter box 
On arrival we walked to the tourist information office and it gave us the opportunity to bask in the unexpected sunshine that we had not dressed for at all. Our first host was an official city tour guide who took us to see the beautiful cathedral and gave us a lot of the history including the limited time that Jane Austen lived there.

Alfred the Great 
Jane Austen 

There are some lovely touches to Winchester that are eccentric and unexpected. These bollards for instance are decorated in different artistic styles. There is a Mondrian and an Andy Warhol one and they do look pretty striking. They are located outside the City Museum which is the first purpose built museum outside London. We skipped it on the day we visited, but as I fully intend to go again I'm saving it for a future trip.

Having seen the beautiful sights and learned some of the history of the city we went to meet Gary Whiter of the Cabinet Rooms who is the Food / Drink ambassador. He took us to see some of the independent resturants and bars that are putting Winchester on the map as a foodie destination. He and his partner opened their chic bar having been drawn to the city by it's focus on organic, local produce and artisan gins. We spent a lovely afternoon meeting some of the people bringing wonderful food and drink to this historic location.

Flat Whites is based from a coffee van that built a loyal local following that has enabled them to see off a sandwich chain that has set up directly next to it. We spoke to the staff who told us that they also have a branch in Southampton so when I next visit the in-laws I will have to search it out.

Forte Kitchen is universally regarded as one of the best places to eat in Winchester although the chef / patron Ollie is suitably modest about this accolade. While we were there they were preparing for lunch service in a tiny kitchen in which they prepare simple, but ridiculously good food that requires you plan ahead to ensure you get a table. I will definitely head here for breakfast on my next visit - I hear the pancakes are amazing.

Ollie chef/patron at Forte 

Pie Carumba has the dual honour of being the best named place I've seen in a long while and having by far the best decor. I think my kids would love it here and Hubbie would definitely appreciate the menu. It's tucked away a bit so you do need to look for it, but I suspect it's a local's favourite. 

Chococo is on my list of heavenly places. On a previous visit to Winchester I spotted this shop and just stood outside drinking in all the chocolately goodness in the windows. This time we went inside and even got a chance to taste some of the delicious chocolate. It is really excellent quality so you don't need much to get a sweet hit, but honestly when it looks this fab how could anyone resist ?

I feel as though I've barely touched the surface of what we saw on the day, so there will be more in a future post. For now though I'll share a view from our walk along the river. We passed a weir and joked about making a future visit to properly take in the food places and drink some of the local gins. I didn't even mention the Ginchester festival !!

You can find out more on the Visit Winchester website and the social channels @King_Alf on Twitter and King Alf on Facebook under the hashtag #CreativeWinch.