Food and Drink October 12, 2011
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Returning to Dorset with Mark Hix

Dorset is surely among the UK’s most beautiful counties. There’s the stunning Jurassic Coast, with its fossil-filled coves and miles of sandy beaches, and there’s picturesque countryside hiding charming traditional villages that beg to be explored. I was lucky enough to grow up here, and returning to my childhood home to open Hix Oyster & Fish  House has allowed me to get back to my roots.

Working in both London and Dorset provides me with the perfect lifestyle balance. I love retreating to the West Country to really get to grips with ingredients at their source. Most weekends I forage and fish, with the fruits of my labour invariably ending up on plates in my Lyme Regis restaurant. Whether presented with whelks, cuttlefish,  cockles or mackerel, mullet or lobster, our diners seem eager to try and intrigued by the provenance of their food. I’m a firm believer that eating out should be about great company, a great setting and great-tasting simple food, so crab on toast, local oysters and grilled fish overlooking the sea is what we are all about.

As a county, Dorset celebrates its love of food with a number of annual festivals and events. The Eat Dorset Food Fair is held in October and is a fun-filled weekend featuring cooking demonstrations, great local produce and a whole host of events for kids. Fish-lovers will enjoy the Dorset Seafood Festival; The Feast of Dorset and Bridport Food Festival continue to be popular; and the Great Dorset Chilli Festival offers something a bit different. Farmers’ markets take place across the region every week, attracting producers of every kind. Pop along to Bridport, Blandford or Sherborne and pick up anything from some local honey to the wares of one of Dorset’s great cheesemakers. If you fancy an even more hands-on experience, my Kitchen Table classes are held monthly and give you the chance to work with some of  the region’s finest seasonal ingredients, learning how to make best use of them. The courses are great fun as well as being informative – I hope to welcome you all to The Flodge in Charmouth soon.

The South West was once a restaurant desert, and now it’s becoming a bit of a gastro destination. So enjoy trying out the restaurants and, if you have time, try foraging for local produce like sea vegetables and fruit – the area has so much to offer and it is all on your doorstep.


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