Posted 19th June 2013
Embarrassingly it’s summer now, which means that this post has taken me at least two months to get around to writing. But it was so magical that I still want to share it with you – better late than never!
I was lucky enough to grab a ticket for this quarterly moveable feast before they all got snapped up (which they do, very quickly), and boy am I glad I did! Magical is definitely the word I would use to describe the experience, take a look at the photos if you don’t believe me. Read the rest of the review below.
Photos by madebyfinn.com
Festoon is a collaboration between Siobhan, Tilly, Josh, Nic, Simon and Toria, based at Tilly Parker’s family farm in Herefordshire’s Golden Valley. It is one of the most beautiful parts of the world, with gentle tumbling hills that caught the spring light perfectly when we were there. At the turn of each season the team play host to a wonderful feast and celebration, reminiscent of those that have frequented Chanstone Court farm in years gone by.
A marquee pops up in a sheltered patch of the garden, smelling of herbs and decorated with old farming newspaper clippings, mismatched hats, bottles and pictures of the legend himself Mr. Keith Floyd. I’m not sure why there were so many pictures of Keith, but it certainly felt like the sort of party he would have been the life and soul of.
We pitched our tent and met near the lake as the spring sun was setting to enjoy canapés and Perry. The nibbles were plentiful and delicious, including Chanstone lamb spring rolls flavoured with anchovy (as good as they sound), goats cheese and chutney on biscuits, mackerel and other decadent delights.
After taking in the last of the view and meeting new friends around the fire, we moved into the marque and made our way to the well stocked bar, serving everything from absinthe and mint julep cocktails to Chanstone’s own ale – all cheap as chips too!
We took our places at the communal tables with around 35 other guests and enjoyed the entertainment in the form of a string duo, treating us to some lively folk music. First up on the menu was a boiled hen’s egg and soldiers – a risky move if you ask me, especially when you have 40 to serve!
They came on hand carved pieces of Chanstone timber, with a hole for the egg, toasted sourdough and a little pot of wild garlic pesto butter. All of our eggs were cooked to perfection, the bread had a rich smoky taste because it had been chargrilled and the wild garlic was the perfect springtime addition.
More music and laughter filled the marque as we waited for our main and soaked up the atmosphere. In between courses though was a nettle shot. Bright green, irony and with deep flavour, it was the first time I had tried nettles and I will definitely be trying them again.
The main stole the show for me though. Smoked pork belly, which had been cooked slow and low until the meat fell apart at the seams, while the crackling was crisp as it should be. This was served with mash and ‘hedgerow’ reduction, which added a sweet tang and cut through the rich meat perfectly. It got ten out of ten from me.
Pudding was a baked cheesecake with perfectly cooked rhubarb and complete with sugared edible flower that was wolfed down in minutes.
We finally stumbled to our tents after a thoroughly fun evening of great food, dancing, laughter and creativity, feeling privileged to have been part of it. I can’t wait for the next one, but I’m not telling you when it is because I don’t want to miss out!
Thanks again to the Festoon team for having us and letting me use your photos x