Rick Stein’s Favourite Places
Brothels, bishops and, oh yeah, the odd pub or three. Sorry Cornwall, you're going to have to share the legend that is Mr Rick Stein.
Think of Rick Stein and you think of Cornwall, more specifically Padstow but, make no mistake, the TV chef’s Hampshire connections run deep. Read on for his favourite places in this fine county.
Winchester Cathedral is probably my favourite Cathedral anywhere. Oxford was founded by William of Wykeham as was Winchester College and the thing I loved about William of Wykeham was that he made his money from a string of brothels in London. He was a Gentleman of the cloth and, I thought, nothing really changes!
The Master Builders, Bucklers Hard
I love Lymington, because I used to come so often I used to stay at The Master Builders. I always remember driving, most of the time I was doing these books it was in the winter, and driving through the frosty New Forest, and these blinking ponies looking really cold and a bit like Eeyore! It’s really gorgeous.
The East End Arms, Lymington
The other place I really like, pubs-wise, is the East End Arms in East End, near Lymington. It’s owned by a mate of mine, John Illsley, who used to be in Dire Straits. I just love that pub, because nobody’s allowed to change the public bar. He’s owned it for 20 years plus, but he’s not allowed to because the locals just say no-way; I think he could change it legally, but the local’s won’t have it. It’s a really nice restaurant, it’s got the character and his wife, Steph’s done upstairs.
Winchester Farmer’s Market
We filmed at the Winchester Farmer’s Market years ago for Food Heroes, and I just remember thinking at the time — this is the farmer’s market by which all others should be judged. For us, being commercial, we always open restaurants in places where we’ve got lots of existing customers who come to Padstow. Just when we were going to open in Winchester we’ve got lots of people coming, saying, “This is SUCH good news, we go to the Cornwall seafood restaurant all the time and the fact that you’re opening in Winch…” My wife is Australian and taking her for the first time, I felt really proud about being English, right, because Winchester’s got an atmosphere that everyone gets instantly.
Foraging for mushrooms in The New Forest
I don’t know if they’ve banned mushroom picking in The new Forest? They probably have. When they were little, I used to go looking for mushrooms with my kids in North Cornwall, but they were bloody hard to find. You come to The New Forest and it’s like, you can’t believe it, they’re everywhere. I think it’s been banned now. I think a lot of people have been collecting them commercially, there was always a small handful of local mushroom pickers, but I think it just became too intense.
The Wykeham Arms, Winchester
The Wykeham Arms, God, I love that pub! It’s one of my favourites, so I always go and have a beer there.