I recently had the pleasure of attending one of the Autumn Feasts at Nancarrow Farm. A working organic family farm in Zelah, Cornwall, it boasts a large camping field with several bell tents, an oak framed bridal suite and a large oak framed barn, built by the Cornish team and Devon team respectively.
We arrived a 6.15, in the evening light, greeted by smiley-faced staff at the main entrance of a large courtyard. We gratefully accepted a glass of golden coloured cider on ice, with a liquor in it that I believe was whisky. Whatever it was, it tasted sensational, and I greedily gulped it as we walked around.
The entrance to the main barn is grand, comprising a large hipped end, open to the air on one face, and seems to beckon you into the space invitingly. The sound of folk music and guests chatting gave the place a warm buzz. We wandered over to the bbq area and tasted the canapés; Jerusalem artichokes, anchovies and parsley, roasted on the open fires. We had a quick wander around the grounds, before returning to the courtyard to replenish our drinks. Next, we introduced ourselves to Karen and Rob Aitchinson, Caprenter Oak’s competition winners. Before long it was time to be seated in the barn, for the feast to commence!
The wedding and events Barn
The barn is a classic oak frame with five cross frames and four bays, including the large open porch in which the bar is located. Two intermediate cross frames comprise interrupted stub ties, which maximise the space within. There are down-braces in several places on the frame which is partially glazed on the gable end. The tables were set out in four long rows down the length of the barn. Candlelight bathed the room with a wood burner in the far corner. The barn was reminiscent of a Viking great hall. What an epic space to enjoy good food, music and company.
A fabulous feast
We sat down opposite competition winner Karen and Rob and were warmly greeted by our fellow guests. A hush came over the room and Nancarrow Manager, Steve Chamberlain welcomed all the guests and introduced the chefs. The chefs gave us a description of what we would be eating.
Soon the starter arrived, slow-cooked mutton with kitchen garden crosnes (a bizarre root shaped like spiral pasta but with the consistency of water chestnuts), chard, wild mushrooms and elderberry capers, in a light, tangy gravy they called orchard verjus. This came with a thick chunk of sourdough and butter made on the farm. Next, we were treated to puffed beef tendons, which I can only describe as a beef flavoured hybrid of a prawn cracker and pork crackling! Then the main course arrived, shin and shoulder of beef, slow cooked with tomatoes, red wine and aromats. Accompanied by smoked celeriac, bone marrow, wild mushrooms and ox heart and ember baked leeks, garden peas with smoked brown butter and nasturtium capers. Served in large roasting trays, we helped ourselves to generous portions. This was a mouth-watering main course, full of rich, succulent, smoky flavours, and was without a doubt the main event of the evening! Dessert was an indulgent blackberry and chestnut tart, with Somerset cider brandy cream.
The rest of the night was spent chatting away to the sound of acoustic guitar and fiddle music. The oak frame was the perfect host for such fanfare. My lasting impression of Nancarrow farm was just how splendid a spot for celebration it is.
Thank you to Muna’s friend Hannah Wilde who provided us with beautiful photo’s of the evening’s events.