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On Friday, 30th November, we hosted the “Festive FOODIE Feast” – a spectacular evening, all themed around the “12 Days of Christmas”. Guests arrived into our courtyard greeted by chestnuts roasting over an open fire as well as local mulled cider and a selection of local ales.

Once called to the dining room, guests were greeted by Tony Beales who hosted the evening. Diners were then introduced to what their menu would be by a full compliment of bell ringers, playing the 12 Days of Christmas. To start, guests enjoyed a Partridge & Pear mince pie, served with a delicious rosé champagne. Given that we couldn’t eat 2 turtle doves, we had elegant napkin rings fashioned as such. Next up, “3 french hens” resulted in a free range hen’s “scotch egg” with smoked haddock and saffron aioli. This was served with an Australian riesling. Completing the starting courses was “4 calling birds” – a four bird terrine with cranberry jelly and a Sauternes emulsion, paired with a delicious Zwiegelt from Austria, which was light and reminiscent of a Pinot Noir in texture.

The pallet cleanser was a Conker gin & tonic sorbet, with a “gold ring” rimmed glass.

The main course was (“6 geese a laying) obviously roast goose which was soft and tender and dressed in a divine jus, and paired with an LFE 900 red blend (2013) from Chile with dark and punchy fruit notes.

Dessert gave the opportunity for some audience participation. Platters of “7 swans a swimming” turned up at each table – delightfully light choux pastry swans with a delicate vanilla cream and jugs of heavenly chocolate sauce. One lucky diner had an apron attached to their chair, which they needed to put on and serve the rest of their table. Some took this role very seriously indeed 😉

Next was “8 maids a milking” – perfect time for the cheese course, with delicious Dorset cheeses from Ford Farm, including Truffler, Cave aged cheddar, Crofter and Dorset Red – all served with a sweet tawny port from Portugal.

Now, for the “9 Ladies dancing” and “10 Lord a leaping”, we again invited some audience participation, and had the dancefloor filled by the inimitable crooner, Chris Manning. Our final two surprises for the night (as tea, coffee and mini toffee apples were served) were the arrival of a Piper (11 pipers piping, after all!) who we toasted with a Drambuie shot, and then we had a truly grand finale, with 12 drummers drumming – a tremendously rousing performance by a full marching band!

The party atmosphere continued with Chris Manning crooning the night away – a fitting end to an action-packed evening.