Fire & Wild “GATHER”: A Woodland Feast

About two weeks ago, Mark and I spent an afternoon in a secluded woodland in Sussex with a group of complete strangers enjoying some wonderful food and company. I’d seen Fire & Wild on Instagram (check out their incredible profile here) and was instantly drawn to their idea and their menu. All cooked over a wood fire and bursting with wild and foraged ingredients, it was right up my street! I snapped us up two tickets and couldn’t wait for the day to arrive.

We arranged to meet one of the organisers, Daisy, at Lewes to get the bus with the other guests to our mystery venue for the afternoon. Arriving at the woodland, we enjoyed a short walk together through ferns under the dappled light fluttering through the trees.

You could hear everyone’s excitement and delighted reactions as the clearing came into view with wood fires and a long beautifully set table. We were welcomed with a delicious elderflower champagne (idea for next year if I’m brave enough?!). It was great chatting to other guests and realising that, unsurprisingly I suppose, we were of pretty similar minds. No phones or cameras were permitted at the table – the day was about being present, gathering together and enjoying wholesome seasonal food. Obviously I still wanted to give you some visual representations of the food (we were allowed to take pictures of the dessert – I wasn’t just being naughty!) so I thought I’d have a go at some watercolour illustrations. I’m very much an amateur artist so I appreciate you humouring me – I hope you enjoy them!

Our appetiser was sloe gin-cured trout on a homemade rye crisp-bread with a beautiful horseradish crème fraiche and pickled cucumber. Trout is a lovely, more delicate alternative to salmon and the combination of flavours here sounds almost too much, but the punchy flavours were beautifully tempered by the creaminess from the horseradish crème fraiche.

Following that was possibly my favourite course although it’s a very difficult call given how delicious every single dish was. A salad of grilled pigeon with smoked walnuts, grilled lettuce, pickled ramson (wild garlic) buds, and an elderberry vinaigrette. The pigeon was cooked beautifully and packed so much flavour into each little bite so it held it’s own and balanced well with the punchy ramson buds. The wine pairing here was a touch of genius with a gorgeous oaky Chardonnay to complement the smoky flavour of the walnuts.

Our next course was a pearl barley risotto with black chanterelles, Sussex Charmer cheese, toasted hazelnuts and nettles. The umami and savouriness of this dish was so comforting and it was paired with a lovely Pinot Noir. A main course of lamb straight off the spit followed accompanied by a wild salsa verde, sautéed new potatoes and kale crisps and served with a local Sussex red.

A two-part dessert concluded the meal with duck egg crème brûlée served on a forest bed with a gin-based rhubarb and rosehip sour with the most striking coral colour!

The afternoon was rounded off with sloe gin, a bit more chatting and a group photo. Then it was time to say our goodbyes and get escorted back to the station just in time for a train back to London.

As I had hoped, it was an amazing experience that completely lived up to my expectations. The fantastic food, gathering with likeminded people, beautiful woodland with beautiful weather, smell of the fire – just incredible. I felt I could really tune out of hectic London life for a few hours and enjoy the wild outdoors.

Find out more or book tickets for their next event MEANDER here: https://www.fireandwild.co.uk

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