We recently hit a marriage milestone, and my lovely husband organised a 1-night break to the New Forest to celebrate. As always, I was slightly dubious about vegan travel arrangements.  Everything from what to eat on the road, to what to drink and eat once you get there.  More recently I’m now mindful of the beauty products that you’ll come across inside your hotel bathroom too. Hotel Terravina removed all the angst and was pure delight from start to end!

We stopped at a pub en route, and the food was okay, but did not leave me feeling like we were celebrating yet.  Although it was called “The Spotted Cow” which made me smile, I had to resort to my usual fall-back position of chips and house salad.  Luckily I had pre-packed a few pots of sprinkles and was able to “jazz” it up with some chia seeds, black sesame seeds and nooch (nutritional yeast).

We drove through the town to our hotel located down some residential back streets. I found myself wondering what we were in store for, and whether we were going to be celebrating or arguing with the owner over the price of a tiny bottle of shampoo… Images of the B&B reality TV show “Four in a Bed” sprung to mind, so I certainly wasn’t getting my hopes up.  Boy was I surprised and wrong!

As we pulled the car into the sweeping driveway we were struck by the first impression of a house that looked like a throwback to a different era.  I immediately found myself thinking of sipping a cool mint-julep on the front porch of an old house in South Carolina, USA… I was intrigued and finally felt the excitement bubbling up.  The reception area was inviting and had an air of calm and peace.  We checked-in speedily and dropped our bags off before heading to the bar. I was on a mission!

French G-vine vegan gin to celebrateWe had the place pretty much to ourselves and were kept entertained by the French barman who was highly knowledgeable and made a mean cocktail. He told us about a French gin called “G-vine” and after a quick online search we found that it was indeed vegan. Not long after that I had my first delightful gin and elderflower martini in hand.

We sat out back on the expansive covered wooden porch, gazing on to the amazing gardens and pondering how peaceful the nature surrounding us was.

Next up was a special event my husbSabre vegan champagneand had arranged with the hotel – a champagne (vegan!) sabrage experience.  We first came across this historical activity in NYC where we were married.  Saber vegan champagne to celebrateBoth our dads got to saber the night before the wedding and they loved it. Been there, done that…got the saber certificate! After some great instruction and very useful safety tips (don’t try this at home!) I popped the top of the champagne bottle clean off with a sabering knife.  I say “knife”…this amazing instrument was more like a pirate’s sword.  I was fascinated to learn that you can only sabre champagne bottles that have had no dye mixed into the glass bottle (unlike, for instance, Crystal). Safe to say I was grinning like Captain Jack Black before, during and after the event. But the delight didn’t end there…
Celebrating with Vegan dessertAs the sun set over the restaurant we sat down to aIMG_1772 wonderful meal. Usually I’ll find a single option sitting all alone on the menu. In most restaurants – which are not specialist vegan or vegetarian places – I’ve seen a maximum of two courses. More often than not, you can only achieve the two courses by being fussy. The phrases “hold the feta” or “no garlic butter” are among my common repertoire.  Hotel Terravina had a three course vegan meal on offer, and lots of options.  I was blown away! I had a sumptuous tomato basil soup to start, followed by clay-baked beetroot, kale, turnip and aubergine caviar.  It was delicious, and I didn’t feel sickly as you can at times following a rich meal.  Pudding was the perfect end to the almost fairytale anniversary experience… Poached apple covered in walnuts with a scoop of blood orange sorbet. The chef had even piped “happy anniversary” onto the side of my dish, and I couldn’t believe how special everyone had made us feel.  To say we celebrated in style is an huge understatement. This place is legend…

Simplifying happy (and exciting!) choices


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About Michelle

Michelle grew up in a culture where it was normal to eat meat at every meal. Watching close family suffer multiple health problems drove her to learn more about eating for health. After watching Food Inc Michelle took the plunge into veganism and hasn’t looked back since. She is now on a mission to bring vegan inspiration to everyone!