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Wilderness Festival | Nuno Mendes Banquet

Nuno Mendes Banquet at Wilderness

We made another annual trip to Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire to partake in this year's Wilderness Festival. A four day event that mixes performance art, music, food and much much more, but quite simply it has the best food and drink offerings at any festival (I don't think even Taste London plays host to the famous banqueting tables hosted at Wilderness) I've ever been to, with Michelin chefs often showcasing their ability to hike all their equipment produce etc, 2 hours out of London, to a farm in the middle of nowhere and crank through a service for a couple of hundred festival starved people. Simply incredible.

Before the crowd, Nuno Mendes Banquet, Wilderness Festival

This year we joined a banqueting lunch from Nuno Mendes, chef at London's most notoriously difficult restaurant to get a reservation, The Chiltern Firehouse. I'm not sure if its still difficult to get in now days but there was a lot of hype around the restaurant who some felt didn't live up to. I personally thought folks we being overly critical of Mendes who held a michelin star the whole time he was at Chiltern until 2014.

Eel, tomato and strawberry with English wasabi, Wilderness Festival

There was quite a queue to get in but it seemed well organised and we were greeted with a glass of champagne before starting with a sort of amuse bouche crab donut. It was fine, but it was quickly followed by the eel which was extra-ordinary. The descriptions and presentations of the plates were quite understated because the flavour and texture of the eel was soft, creamy and smoky.

Slow roasted pork shoulder, Nuno Mendes Banquet, Wilderness Festival

To follow was a beautiful slow roasted pork shoulder served with what seemed like a garden platter of burnt hispi cabbage, dill, basil and a fermented mushroom chimichurri and Nuno Mendes own special hot sauce for which I am kicking myself for not swiping a bottle of it to take with me. The entire banquet was paired with wine from Berry Bros & Rudd, Vueve Clicquot 

I need this. Nunos Hot Sauce, Mendes Banquet

The pork shoulder roast was everything you could want with a long slow cook, falling apart, fat rendered throughout soft juicy meat, this is exactly how I cook my meat on our charcoal barbecue for hours and hours with wood chips for a nice smoke. Talking of smoke we finished with a cucumber served with reduced milk ice cream and lemon. Fairly bland sounding right? It was incredible - there were smoky flavours and pickled pieces with gel and mint mixed in and it was sweet and so much of a dessert despite its looks and then topped with a black dusting of some sort of nutty sesame.

Incredible flavours yet so simple, Pork with Chimichurri & Hot Sauce, Nuno Mendes

Truly impressive and Nuno and his team had an almighty applause at the end of service - something I had not seen before. The banquet had an unbelievable atmosphere, there were hilarious spur of the moment speeches and birthday celebrations and we were all there experiencing it together with people we'd never met before - it is something you truly need to experience, I loved it and it was fantastic to share it with so many other wonderful wilderness folk.

Huge cheers and applause for Nuno Mendes and Team, Nuno Mendes Banquet, Wilderness Festival

Some highlights below of the crab donut, wrapping the lovely slow roasted pork in the cabbage with Nuno's special hot sauce that I should have arranged to get, chimicurri and dill with basil. The Eel with tomatoes and strawberrys and finally the delicious dessert, milk ice cream with cucumber.

Crab Donut, Pork Wrapped in hispi cabbage, Eel & tomato, Dessert from Nuno Mendes


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