Feasting at Nancarrow Farm
PUBLISHED: 13:44 05 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:54 05 June 2018
Frontline farming has come a long way since direct selling at the farm gate - and Nancarrow takes it the farming experience to the next level
This working farm, which has been in the same family since 1782, is a very special place to visit and made an inspiring backdrop for the convivial and very enjoyable event I attended as part of their spring gathering.
The farm is known as a venue for communal feast nights; the latter take place throughout the year and always get booked up quickly. After my experience I can see why. It’s a great alternative to a traditional restaurant visit and brings you into direct contact with the people and place responsible for producing your plate of food. The vast majority of everything used here originates from the farm itself, namely organic beef and lamb reared on the rolling pastures, fruit, vegetables and herbs from the orchards and kitchen gardens, and various wild ingredients foraged from the plentiful hedgerows.
The spring gathering was a two-day seasonal celebration – the evening feast I attended being just one aspect of that. We were invited to arrive early and explore the farm, which was busy with visiting families meeting the lambs, watching traditional craftspeople at work, playing countryside games and sampling local beers and wines. The canapes were cleverly dotted around the farm, encouraging feast guests to explore the beautiful gardens, potting sheds and rustic barns.
These tasters included pieces of Nancarrow Lamb marinated and cooked in a homemade tandoor, fillets of pollock served with a hedgerow tartare sauce, potato cakes with fermented leeks and a bone marrow hollandaise, and slow-roasted pork belly with a salt lemon glaze. All were utterly delicious and once again I found my inner chef refreshed and enthused by coming into contact with the creativity and passion of others.
Soon it was time for the friendly team to usher us into the oak-framed barn, where long communal tables were laid ready to receive us. Although many people had obviously come as part of large groups of family and friends, the set-up made it just as natural and pleasant to be alone or part of a couple, and before long you couldn’t tell who was old friend or new!
The main course was slow-cooked Nancarrow Beef, with beetroots baked in a coffee-grind crust and braised butterbeans. It was hearty, earthy fare and put me in mind of the kind of good honest food that farm workers probably used to enjoy after a hard day in the fields. A lot of the cooking here is done over woodfire in the impressive courtyard kitchen, imparting wonderful rustic, smoky flavours and also providing a great outdoor spectacle for us feasters to enjoy.
Dessert was a clotted ice cream sandwich, which was much lighter than it sounds. A whipped clotted cream parfait was sandwiched between layers of hazelnut sponge and served with caramelized apple and thyme. This was delicious, as was the blood orange and hazelnut choux which rounded it all off.
I don’t think you could get a more authentic field to fork experience than this, and all credit to the team for delivering such great food and hospitality. The thriving events business is the result of a diversification project which has ensured the survival of a small organic family farm, where native breeds are reared slowly and traditionally; thank goodness this kind of farming is being preserved in small pockets for the benefit of chefs and food lovers like me! I will certainly be back for another helping very soon.
The feast I attended was £40 per person. Similar events take place throughout the year and the menus and themes follow the seasons. Bed and breakfast is also available on feast nights.
What: Spring Gathering & Feast
Who: Nancarrow Farm
Where: Near Truro
When: 13 April
About Ben Tunnicliffe
Ben has been a champion of Cornwall’s food and drink scene since he settled here in 2001. His Newlyn pub, The Tolcarne Inn, serves the freshest seafood around, while his eponymous beach-side eatery in Sennen delivers family-friendly dining in a stunning location.
Follow Ben on Twitter - @ben_tunnicliffe