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Sunday Bacon Club at Wilderness Festival and Eat Like a Girl at Blogstock

SUNDAY BACON CLUB AT WILDERNESS

Some exciting news: this year, I am bringing Sunday Bacon Club to Wilderness. Wilderness is an ace food focussed music festival (hooray!) in Oxford, and it doesn’t stop there, it also has lots of theatre, small stages with more eclectic stuff, a roller disco, a spa, yoga and wild swimming. Fun!

I went last year as a punter and had a wonderful time, highlights of which were breakfasts at St John and feasts at Hix & Polpo (there were also feasts from Moro & Ottolenghi), lots of music and dancing, a fantastic French circus thing and late nights down in the woods revelling. I was keen to go back this year and happily an email popped into my inbox. Would I be keen to bring Sunday Bacon Club to the Wilderness Cookery School this year? Well, YES, I would.

Tickets for Wilderness are on sale now (it always sells out so be speedy), as are tickets for Sunday Bacon Club. It is a shorter class than normal at a bargain £40. I am so looking forward to it. Feasts (immense marquee banquets) this year are from Angela Hartnett, Simon Rogan, Polpo, Hix, Moro & Morito. St John are doing a la carte too. And some are sold out already.

My posts from last year, to refresh your memory!
Feasting at Wilderness Part 1: St John Breakfasts, Moro Afternoons & Polpo’s Venetian Banquet
Feasting at Wilderness Part 2: Sunday Lunch at Hix

EAT LIKE A GIRL AT BLOGSTOCK

blog stock - original

I have been invited to host and curate all of the food content for the world’s first bloggers festival, Blogstock. Unlike most blogging events, it is multi-discplinary, and is a great opportunity to meet and collaborate outside of our own niches. It will be held in Elstree, just outside of London.[Read more]

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Feasting at Wilderness Part 2: Sunday Lunch at Hix

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Live music in the centre of the banqueting tent while we ate our Hix Sunday lunch

Back once more to Wilderness and the memory of one of the most fun and delicious Sunday lunches that I have had in a while. The scene is the Banqueting Tent once more, and the chef this time, Mark Hix. Solid English cooking, more live music, the sun, and a hangover that I needed to work my way out of. Standard for a festival, isn’t it? This was medicinal, and a reminder that I need to revisit his restaurants in London again (and try the ones that I have not yet been to).

The food served was bright and vibrant, and how I love to eat. Big platters shared in the centre of the table and lots of everything. And who doesn’t love a roast chicken on a Sunday? The whipped broad beans were a revelation, but everything was good. As with the Polpo feast the night before this was generous and big. Wilderness know how to do food at a festival, I will be back next year.

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Evesham Radishes with Mayonnaise and Celery Salt

Moyallon Pork Crackling with Bramley Apple Sauce

Moyallon Pork Crackling with Bramley Apple Sauce

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De Beauvoir Smoked Salmon – Hix cure – with Corrigan’s Soda Bread

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Jellied Ham Hock with Picalilli

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Whipped Broad Beans with Grilled Flatbread

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Tramshed Chicken with Baked Garlic Sauce

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Fruits of the Forest Eton Mess

This post follows on from my first Wilderness post: Feasting at Wilderness Part 1: St John Breakfasts, Moro Afternoons & Polpo’s Venetian Banquet

With thanks to Wilderness who invited me to attend the festival 

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Feasting at Wilderness Part 1: St John Breakfasts, Moro Afternoons & Polpo’s Venetian Banquet

Many years ago, pre blog, when I was just a normal mildly obsessive individual idling on the streets, I had three passions: food, travel & music. Other stuff too, of course but the core directions I would find myself moving in centred around those. I read more music blogs than food blogs when I first started (which seems bizarre I would agree) but I always loved live music, finding great new music to listen to, and this was the best place to do this. Even as my life became increasingly centred on food, I still went to music festivals and gigs and always, almost without fail, despaired at the food there.

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St John at Wilderness – loved the lettering outside

Bring on Wilderness, one of a new breed of festivals that takes food very seriously. Not just by inviting some of London’s best restaurants but also enabling them them to create sumptuous feasts. In the centre of the festival site, there is a large restaurant area with a banquet tent which hosted lunches and dinners from Ottolenghi, Polpo & Hix. Surrounding this was St John & Moro in their own tents providing feasts of their own, but also lifesaving take away food. J Sheekey had a van serving great fish and chips (and also randomly serving red bull). There was many more trucks including some of London’s favourites, but this is what I focussed on, so this is what I will describe here.

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St John at Wilderness

You probably know, but I really hate camping. The late nights and waking up with the dawn light results in a lack of sleep that I can barely cope with, never mind with a hangover. (Next time: glamping with a sleep mask). On this occasion I had a hastily purchased and tiny loathsome tent which I bounded out of promptly every morning and went to feed.

The best breakfast in that situation was a St John life giving bacon and egg roll in a slightly sweet brioche style bun. The bacon was cooked over a BBQ outside and there was coffee. There was also a ridiculous but fantastic welsh rarebit, so huge it wouldn’t fit on the plate. It is one of my favourite things on the St John menu, so it was only right that I should have it at Wilderness too. Wine too, if you were brave enough to have that with breakfast (I wasn’t). In fact, one of my top tips for Wilderness is to avoid the main bar and get your wine in the restaurant area. St John had a great list from the affordable & quaffable to more sublime.

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St John’s lifesaving bacon and egg roll at Wilderness

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St John welsh rarebit – just LOOK at it! And go to St John and have one with a glass of house champagne

Saturday afternoon was spent joyfully idling and soaking it all in with a mid afternoon snack of terrific Moro lamb chops, I only wish that I could have fitted in more there.

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Some dramatic lamb chop cooking at Moro at Wilderness

Roll on Saturday night and the decadent Polpo Venetian feast. The banquet hall was enormous and beautifully decorated. We were all given masks on arrival and everyone sat, chatted and laughed on long tables. There was live music from a small stage in the centre and the atmopshere was electric.

Live music at the Polpo Venetian Banquet at Wilderness

Live music at the Polpo Venetian Banquet at Wilderness

Starting with an aperol spritz, platters of baccala mantecato crostino, fennel salami & pickled radicchio grissini and carta di musica & sage oil with olives, we were still only at the appetisers. One of the meal highlights followed, the sharp and rich mackerel and horseradish tartare, served with arancini, fennel almond and curly endive salad and an excellent selection of salami and prosciutto.

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Mackerel tartare at the Polpo Venetian Banquet at Wilderness

We are still not even half way through, Rise e Bise came next, served tableside in bowls and the prelude to the main courses, of which there were several. Grilled lamb with salsa verde, spot on heritage tomato panzanella, runner beans with red onion and pecorino salad and one of my favourite parts of the meal, the whole grilled sea bream which was fresh and succulent and fresh off the BBQ from out the back (130 sea bream were grilled for the banquet that night).

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Risi e Bisi served tableside at Polpo’s Ventian Banquet at Wilderness

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Lamb with Salsa Verde

Whole sea bream being grilled on the BBQ for the Polpo Venetian Banquet at Wilderness

Whole sea bream being grilled on the BBQ for the Polpo Venetian Banquet at Wilderness

For dessert we had a tiramisu, which was light as it was rich and strawberries with clotted cream and aged balsamic. A near perfect meal, the only criticism I would have is that there was too much of it, and how can that be a criticism at all?! It can’t be.

Tiramisu at the Polpo Venetian Banquet at Wilderness

Tiramisu at the Polpo Venetian Banquet at Wilderness

Music festivals, pay attention: this is how you do food at a festival. Part 2 soon which will be all about the Hix Sunday Lunch Banquet and a life saving bloody mary.

With thanks to Wilderness who invited me to attend the festival