6.6.11

A WONDERFUL NIGHT IN WILDERNESS WOOD

Ever since I was invited to the candlelit dinner in the Wilderness Wood over a month ago, I was counting down the days to Friday 3rd June. And when that day came last week I was not disappointed.

We left London at 6 on Friday (BIG mistake) and were stuck in the car for 3 and a half hours. All the time, all I was worried about was that we would miss the food! I really had been waiting for this meal for a very long time! However, my concern turned to calm, when our gorgeous hostess, owner of the beautiful Wilderness Wood, Joanna Yarrow, texted us to check on our progress and assure us we would still get some food, whenever we showed up!

We arrived at 9.30, and having missed out on the choice of seating, we were given our own little table for 2 - everyone else sits on two long tables, but it was actually quite special to have our own corner of the beautifully lit barn. With in a minute of sitting down we were brought a glass of organic wine, and our starter to eat whilst the evening's speaker, Lucy Siegle, Observer columnist and ethical champion, continued with her talk.

An amazing smelling stuffed mushroom was presented to us, a lovely pearl barley and preserved lemon surprise that had not featured on the dinner's website. The fresh, zesty taste of the lemon complimented the woody mushroom so well. The whole thing was delicious.

As we finished our starter it was nearly time for everyone's main course, and we hadn't missed as much of the meal as I'd thought we would. This was thanks to the brilliant scheduling of the evening. Lucy Siegle gave great mini talks between each course, not only educating us on sustainable and fairtrade fashion and entertaining us with question and answers sessions, but letting the guests digest each course, instead of galloping on to the next.

The main course was better than I'd ever hoped. Rare roast fillet of beef with incredibly smooth and creamy dauphinoise, British asparagus and yummy hollandaise. Absolutely divine. Jonathan, who runs Wilderness Wood with Joanna, told us the next day that Joanna and he sit down with their chefs once a month to choose their menus, and always go for something that would be just a bit too difficult to cook for everyone themselves. What a wonderful idea. Nothing was pretentious or too 'cheffy', just big, bold, fresh flavours.


After more nuggets of wisdom from Lucy, and some comedy yawning from Tosca the terrier, it was time for pudding. I never thought I'd have room for 3 courses, but I ate all of it! The homemade flourless chocolate cake was moist and rich, and was served with a tart, crisp raspberry coulis.

We had opted to camp after the meal and I hadn't realised quite how claustrophobic I was until I woke up at 4 in the morning with the 'ceiling' of my tent less than a foot away from my face.


So we moved into the back of the van, and with the doors open had a blissful sunny Saturday morning sleep. And woke up to this view - where brunch was to be served.


Brunch just topped off what had been such an amazing night at Wilderness Wood. We were given the choice of all the normal brunch ingredients, and opted for Wilderness Wood eggs and chives with mushrooms on rye bread. All cooked to absolute perfection.


I really can't recommend the candlelit dinners at Wilderness Wood enough. They happen once a month, the first Friday normally although not in July (it's the 8th not the 1st). The evening meal is £35 a head, which includes one glass of  organic wine - more can be bought for a very reasonable £12+ a bottle. I had the most wonderful time, I felt like we were staying in a very, very magic place.

For more information on the dinners and all the other activities the wood offers check www.wildernesswood.co.uk.

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