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The Forest Foodie's luxury Christmas hamper is bursting with delicious locally sourced treats

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NOTHING says Christmas like a luxury hamper brimming with mouthwatering treats – and the Forest Foodie’s festive offering really stands out for its exclusive use of locally produced goodies.

The Lymington-based company’s range of 35 hampers caters to every taste and budget, with sumptuous fare including Miss Witt chocolate, award-winning Naked Jam, New Forest Shortbread, Burley Fudge, Brook Hill and Hattingley Valley limited edition pudding wine, Conker Gin, and artisan coffee by the Forest Edge Roasting company.

Founder Flora Richardson, who has recently taken up a unit at the former Fox Pond dairy depot, is also offering bespoke corporate hampers, complete with personalised messages and company colours.

Flora Richardson
Flora Richardson

“We have so many amazing producers on our doorstep – but the food and drink I use is not just local, it’s also delicious,” said Flora.

“I wanted to bridge that gap between suppliers and not just the people living here but also those visiting the area.

“I want to encourage a circular economy by telling the stories of small, local businesses that are driven by passion. I want to understand their purpose and I’m constantly learning.

“Every one of my suppliers I would have met – I know where the ingredients are foraged from to make the jam I buy, and I’ve even been involved in helping to decide the final blends for wine produced at Brook Hill vineyard.

“By buying from these suppliers I am helping to grow their businesses and that is what I love about what I do.”

The Lymington-based company has a range of 35 hampers
The Lymington-based company has a range of 35 hampers

The Forest Foodie, which was set up last July and is accredited by the New Forest Marque, also delivers fresh hampers and picnics to locals, holiday cottages and yachts around the New Forest.

They contain locally-sourced delights like seafood from New Forest Fish and Shellfish, A Pinch of Salt charcuterie, cheese from Dorset-based The Book and Bucket, Pig ‘n’ Pickles chutney and crackers from the Isle of Wight Biscuit Company.

Flora, who formerly ran a French restaurant in the Meribel ski resort in the Alps, runs a meal delivery service too, her speciality being the ever-popular beef Wellington using free-range meat from the Commoner’s Larder in Cadnam.

The three-course menu changes each week, with this week’s featuring chicken liver parfait with brandy and thyme, slow-cooked crispy duck legs and sea salt chocolate tart.

“As well as being sustainable and having a positive impact on the long list of amazing businesses in our area, I want people to experience the taste of the New Forest,” said Flora.

“The food and drink community is close knit and everybody helps each other out. I never make it just about me and what I do.

The Forest Foodie map showing from where the hampers' contents are sourced
The Forest Foodie map showing from where the hampers' contents are sourced

“One of my suppliers is using recipes handed down from her great-grandmother, another imports olives from their family’s farm in Greece and infuses in the New Forest to make oil – these are the stories I want to get across.”

In the new year, Flora is hoping to take on new staff and install a large commercial kitchen at her new 1,000-square-metre unit.

“I haven’t had enough capacity and unfortunately I have had to turn customers down in the past,” she told the A&T. “But with this new unit I have plans to really grow the business next year.”

Hampers are delivered in wicker boxes with leather straps, which can be used again, and picnics and fresh hampers come in cardboard boxes with natural wool lining. Deliveries are free within 10 miles of Lymington.

For more information about the Forest Foodie or to purchase a Christmas hamper, visit www.theforestfoodie.com, email hello@theforestfoodie.com or call Flora on 01590 674395.

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