Food blog alert, here we go! I've raved on and on about my wonderful weekend at Wilderness and this is one of the biggest reasons why. One of my fave things about Wilderness Festival #1 – the food is GREAT.
I’m not just talking about foodie stalls and vans that they have. Seeing a mac and cheese van or a crab shack isn’t such a surprise at a festival anymore (although still very welcome) Wilderness went next level with REAL London restaurateurs and chefs, hosting REAL feasts and banquets throughout the weekend.
I mean, look at this Banqueting Tent! (One of many)
My personal highlight, was one of my London favourites - Mark Hix. I’m a big fan of Tramshed in Shoreditch, where they do a whole roast chicken served with the feet flamboyantly in the air – I know it’s mainly for show but Chinese people like me have a lot of time (and teeth) for that! Also Mark’s Bar has fantastic cocktails and chicken popcorn (not KFC popcorn chicken, I’m talking chicken flavoured popcorn) and the classic Hix Soho does a fabulous, under-hyped Sunday brunch – again, accompanied by fabulous cocktails. Basically, in the real world, I can’t get enough of Hix restaurants.
In the festival world, nothing changes. The food was equally as good but with the added bonus of being served in a lovely rural setting. The fact that it was about 24 degrees also helped.
First, we started with cocktails (of course). Since Mark's Bar in Soho has an extensive and exciting cocktail list, so we knew we were in good hands. The Bloody Mary's in particular are fantastically savoury and spiced without being overpowering. Bloody love a Bloody Mary.
The only downside is that due to the usual festival no-glass policy, they were served in little plastic cups which are fun for no one. It's not full festival lockdown though. Like Business Class meals onboard an airplane, you actually get metal cutlery with your meal. Living the high life!
Here's me, looking a bit bedraggled on the last day of the festival and about to sit down to a full Sunday feast in the Hix tent.
Now the concept of the feasting tent is that you share between 6 people. As we were only a two, our meal was shared between old and new friends and it was truly great. Being honest, I'm not usually one for inter-festival mingling (I'm shy! Cough.) but the people we met were bright and charming and all kinds of interesting.
Seriously, one of our new companions was a high-end milliner and another foodie couple had travelled here from Singapore and were an accountant and a journalist (ie. basically me as two people, but much more lovely)
But enough about the social starter, what did we eat?
Pickled late summer vegetables
Woodall's Black Combe Ham
Heritage beetroot salad with toasted walnuts and Cashel Blue
First of all, the English equivalent of a delicious slice of Serrano ham. The Black Combe ham we were served was made in the heart of Cumbria. Hand rubbed with a dry cure mix and then cold smoked in oak for 5 hours before being left to air dry for at least 6 months. 6 months?! I've had relationships shorter than that.
As a huge charcuterie fan, this did not disappoint. Fragrant and savoury with those deliciously satisfying melty bits of fat - y'know, the sort that turn people into vegetarians.
Moving onto a different kind of cocktail, we were treated to Atlantic Prawn Cocktail, large juicy prawns served on fresh lettuce with a tangy Marie Rose style dressing. The portion size was generous, I had at least four. My surprise favourite though, was the heritage beetroot salad. Never anything I'd pick off the menu normally but the beets were colourful and fresh, with the perfect amount of crunch. Perfectly offset with crumbly Cashel Blue and toasted walnuts, it's genuinely got me considering adding a beetroot to my supermarket shopping basket next time. (Hey, it can look pretty on my kitchen counter)
The Main Event
The mains did not disappoint either - my eyes were literally on stalks as I watched boards of roasted lobster make their way into the tent. Lobster and garlic butter, can you get any better than that?
Well, apparently you can. Wood-fired ribs of beef on the bone. The picture tells you EVERYTHING. Beautifully tender and fully flavoured, these perfectly cooked ribs had us all in bits. (To get a similar beef fix, I recommend the Sunday Roast at Hix Soho) This meal was without a doubt, the best food I've ever had a festival. The only question was, who got to nibble the rest off the bone?
Of course, I can't sign off without mentioning the dessert. Raspberries fresh from the farm, with delicious clouds of meringue and rich chocolate mousse. As soon as I mentioned Hix Restaurants on my Facebook page, everyone was like "YOU HAVE TO TRY THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE". (all the capitals as well) It's basically a London foodie rite of passage, sorry but I don't make the rules.
Oakchurch Farm raspberries with Peruvian Gold chocolate and meringue
A perfect end to a fantastic few days at Wilderness Festival - I really recommend treating yourself to a feast if you go next year. If not, check out the Hix restaurants dotted around London. They do bottomless brunches, oyster happy hours and even late-night lock ins. That, plus delicious no-nonsense food and interesting cocktails - what else could you need?! (though let's be honest, I had you at bottomless brunch didn't I?)
For the full Wilderness report, see my Wilderness Festival Highlights here and my Yahoo Style article on The Rise Of The LIfestyle Festival here.
What do you think of this festival feast? Have you been to a Mark Hix restaurant? Tweet me your thoughts @FaceValueBlog or send me a comment on Facebook!