Frances and her husband restored the New Forest Lodge, an abandoned and sadly neglected stone built hill farm. Over the past few years they have been busy restoring stables, barns, and the ancient farm buildings, which now offer rustic but comfortable accommodation for their horses, guests, and family. Frances keeps her culinary skills up to scratch, running their Country Cooking School.
So I arrived pretty much on time; New Forest Lodge is a quaint working farm, horseback riding bed and breakfast lodge with all the basic necessary amenities. For me, this was what just what I was looking for. Frances, David, Milton, Manny, Ozzi and the children, Cesar and Rosa, are all part of the charm and make New Forest Lodge the warm hospitable place it is. It is still a work in progress, maybe more goats, more chickens, cheese making, more citrus trees, the possibilities are endless. I know I can pretty much follow recipes, but sometimes throw my arms up in frustration. This vacation brought me back to basics and I learned with just a little more time and thoughtfulness, I can transform just the basic ingredients into a culinary masterpiece. It can get as simple or as complex as you want to make it. This was a hands on cooking experience for me and has given me the where with all to cook for my dinner parties to come, instead of just ordering out food or having the party catered. The location is central, between the beaches, surfing area and the cafes and little villages and endless hiking trails there is plenty to do when not cooking. You will need to rent a car for sure. I was fortunate to have my time spent at New Forest Lodge with some really great people, which made my stay even that much more pleasurable. And of course the wine was flowing and not less than perfect and the photo ops were endless. While there, you must take a horse back ride or lesson. Cheers to Frances, David, and the New Forest Lodge family! Sincerely, Bong!
Alison Beckett Nigeria
The New Forest lodge was a delicious, relaxing and educational vacation that we are already thinking about trying again. My husband and I stayed for four days on the butchery and cooking vacation. We loved Fran and Davids beautiful gardens. Even better was the wonderful bounty the gardens provided on the table.fresh herbs, tomatoes, pomegranates, lemons and so much more. Manny was an excellent teacher for the butchery, and the ribs and pork loin were outstanding. Although riding wasnt part of our package, we asked if we could work in a ride. Fran set it up for us and we had a wonderful time. If you want fancy trappings and rowdy bars, this is not for you. If you want glorious scenery, wonderful fresh food and a relaxing time with fun and knowledgeable people, you wont be disappointed.
Randy United States
Cooking and riding haven!We originally searched riding and cooking vacations; reversing search to cooking and riding led us to the link for New Forest Lodge. We could not believe what's offered at the price point, as the 8 days stay for 2 people was less than 4 days at a ranch in Arizona.Frances and David are warm hosts, and with the assistance of Ossie, Milton, and Manny we were picked up at the Aljezur bus stop and settled into a 3-room accommodation. The bathroom had a very good shower with enough hot water. An electric hot pot was available for coffee or tea before facing the world. There were interesting prints and photos on the walls, and a bookshelf and desk in the bedroom. The bed was comfortable, and we enjoyed being able to sleep with the windows thrown wide open, as there were no bugs at night. The stars were spectacular, and a telescope stood in the corner for our use.We had plenty of time to relax, nap, or read, as there is no wifi. There was cell coverage, but we did not want to get hit with international roaming rates. It was truly decompressing to be off the grid for a week. One of the dogs, Bob the Builder, was happy to go for walks on the roads with Marty, and he came to our door each morning.Frances gears her cooking sessions to the skills and interests of her guests, and the other guest staying for the week was a chef from Sweden. He was given free rein to create, while Frances fine tuned our preparation skills and taught us concepts that can be applied to a variety of ingredients, such as how to prepare any sort of vegetable bread or vegetable soup. We came away with methods and flavor profiles we can use at home.We had 3 meals every day: continental breakfasts, full lunches and dinners with salads, mains, sides, and desserts. We enjoyed a spectacular pork roast, traditional codfish in cream sauce, stuffed squid, Friday mackerel, grilled chicken, lemon chicken, and suckling pig. The menu depends on what's available, seasonal. Much is grown on the farm in David and Fran's gardens. We made a trip to the fish market in Lagos, and saw sea creatures that aren't in American markets. Milton manned the grill and kept the wood-fired oven going. He did most of the meal set-up and cleanup, as well as assisting Manny with the horses.On a rainy day, David treated us to a tour of the southern shore and the Algarve, showing us where he and Fran first came to Portugal. He is full of stories and adventures, and he and Marty hit it off. Manny is a true horseman. His stock are fit and happy, and he matched us well with horses and tack. On the slower rides, he gave us lots of information on the trees and greenery we rode past. The dirt roads and trails are in excellent shape, and we did a lot of trotting and some cantering on the second ride. My last ride was with other experience riders, and he added 2 rousing gallops. I was a happy woman!We enjoyed our stay and would recommend it to anyone looking to experience on a farm in southern Portugal. It is not a resort, so do not expect that type of accommodation. We hope to be able to return, to visit our new friends, the Fry family.
Madison United States
My time at New Forest Lodge from August 31 - September 3 was lovely. I would absolutely recommend this to anyone. The location is stunning, the family is caring and interesting and the food is delicious. Perfect holiday.
My friend Merry and I combined a holiday in Portugal with a cooking trip. We spent a lovely 3 nights 4 days with Francis, David and their family. The ranch was great, situated in the middle of a large forested area. We saw amazing sunrises and fabulous sunsets.The family members were very welcoming and the experience was excellent. Cooking class was just the right amount of instruction time and free time. The ranch is very rustic, no TV, or internet. It is a great opportunity to reflect and unwind.We made some amazing loaves of bread, desserts, fish dishes and rabbit in a pumpkin. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone who has a sense of adventure, and a desire to learn how to cook. This holiday is exactly as advertised.
George United States
We had a wonderful cooking holiday at New Forest Lodge, Portugal. Our week was excellent value for the money. The all inclusive lodging, meals, wine and personal instruction for one price couldn't be beat. The working farm, rustic atmosphere was a plus. New Forest is no dude ranch.David and Frances are a professional team who set the tone for the enterprise. We were treated with respect and courtesy. Frances is an instinctive, patient teacher. The personal, hands on lessons were instructive and fun.We felt that we were visiting friends. Beside learning some skills we gained an appreciation for the slow, natural, simple way of cooking. Some tasks were tedious, like picking crab or kneading bread but actually turned out to be soothing and contemplative.Our meals were a really joyful time. We worked on preparing the dishes and had fun eating the outcome of our efforts. David is the ultimate host. Engaging and humorous always with an interesting story. Frances is a very caring person.Their extended family Ossie, Manny and Milton are hard working and generous with their time. We must also mention Rosa and little Cezar, really fun kids. Finally, we must include the dogs. Sabbath, Tintis, Bob, King-Prince and Duke who round out the cast of New Forest Lodge.At the end, we didn't want to leave when the week was up but we had a week in Barcelona and a cruise to catch. In the intervening weeks we have often brought up our experience at New Forest Lodge. It is unforgettable. Richard and I went to this country cooking school vacation in June 2014.
Jonathan United Kingdom
We had a fantastic time at New Forest Lodge in Portugal. A lovely place, good food, nice people. My 14 year old daughter really wants to go back again and I think we will return next year! We went to this cooking and horse riding holiday in April 2014.
Ute H. Germany
I've just spend a day joining Frances for her cooking class at her farm near Aljezur. Coming to this beautiful piece of land, you'll be impressed by the lovely gardens for all kind of vegetables and herbs. Goats, chicken, and pigs are here to have a good life before becoming an excellent meal. The class itself starts with shopping some fresh ingredients like octopus or almonds at the Aljezur local food market. But be careful, you'll have a tight schedule to get all the wonderful dishes done, Frances planned in perfection for you. I was deeply impressed by the bread making (in an old outside oven like you know it from fairy tales). We got a little snack out of self-made fresh cheese, bread sticks, and some vine in the sun. Paradise! Later, we started to prepare some octopus salad, grilled fish and octopus (I learned how to gut it both), a typical Portuguese bacalhau and a wonderful very easy-to-make tarte as dessert. Not to mention the taste of the bacalhau and everything around had just the best taste ever. And it was not only me, even Frances' husband asked (after 40 years) if she had done something special this day with the bacalhau. Frances will show you plenty of kitchen tricks and how-to-do-it-best ways in her very well equipped cooking class kitchen. She's really a professional but has retained her warm heart. She is so into cooking and teaching at the same second, you really feel in good hands. And you have to do everything by your own, really to inhale the subject matter! In the end, you'll get a complete recipes folder to take it home and re-cook everything! It was a great pleasure to join Frances and her family this day and enjoying our super dishes together. Thanks again for such a wonderful host!
Trip Advisor website
We stayed at the New Forest Lodge for two days and we had the most wonderful experience. We went for a day horseride in the National Park. Although both beginners, the guys taught us and put us very much at ease. In the evening, Frances and Milton cooked us a fantastic dinner, which we enjoyed with the NFL family, having a fabulous time. The guys are kind, helpful and so much fun. Spending two days with them we got to know more about the land and Portuguese traditions, as well as about the story behind NFL. We had such a great time, we truly didn't want to leave.
Simon United Kingdom
Trip Advisor website
New Forest lodge is certainly unique! I was mainly interested in the location and the cooking school. Firstly its remote so dont expect local bars in the vicinity,its a beautiful farm with stunning views and a family style welcome. I indulged myself in their life and they accepted me as part of the family.The food and value for money is second to none. Think home cooking at its ultimate best. Fresh ingredients grown on their land. The accommodation was clean and absolutely perfect and I was very comfortable. Most days I was one on one riding and same with the cooking which allowed me to progress so quickly.Manny and Milton are great riding teachers and Francis is an experienced chef with a passion for great food and produce. I stayed 2 weeks after extending my stay by 5 days as I was enjoying it all so much. I just cant put into words what a special place it is. you will love your stay here. I cant wait to return!
Nancy United States
Trip Advisor website
As a professional chef, I found our day with Frances and her family in Aljezur to be a delight. Frances is an amazing source of information on Portuguese cookery and is especially helpful in comparing techniques and ingredients used in English and Portuguese dishes. The menu well warrants the price which is higher than other options in the Algarve.We prepared and enjoyed leg of lamb with garden rosemary and garlic; curried mussels; grilled small fish (cavelo); bacalau in a cream, potato and pepper mixture; four types of bread and two amazing desserts. The first dessert, tarte de nate (cream tart) is my most loved dessert now while the second, chocolate semifreddo, was delicious for chocolate people.High points of the instruction included use of the wood oven and wood fired grill, use of fresh yeast in baking focaccia, rosemary rolls and chorizo rolls, preparation of salted cod, and use of gelatin sheets. We attended the class on our first day in Portugal and were far better prepared to enjoy the culinary offerings of Portugal as a result.
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