Friday, 15 August 2014

The Feast Collective, Camp Bestival

[@yesiamben] Earlier this year, the kind folks behind Camp Bestival were kind enough to get in touch and send CheeseburgerBoy and I an invite down to their Dorset festival. This year, see, they'd decided to try something called 'The Feast Collective' - 'independent chefs, street vendors and creative food makers'. Something they (correctly) thought might be right up our strasse.
Alas CBB, who'd been before and thoroughly enjoyed it, was booked in to play some records at a wedding that weekend - so I said I'd head down and eat for two. How awful. I couldn't commit to the weekend, so figured I'd head down (with the girlfriend) for the Saturday day. After a lonnnnnng (lots of traffic) drive that was peppered with showers, we arrived and parked up in the fields that surround beautiful Lulworth Castle to much bluer skies and a lovely bright sun. 
The atmosphere at Camp Bestival is fantastic. It's very friendly, very relaxed and very peaceful. I'm assuming this is the result of it being 'family friendly' - there were certainly tons of kids who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves (and massive congrats to whoever let it be known - true of not - that you got 10p for every cup that was returned for recycling… There were kids *everywhere* picking up litter!). Definitely a whole lot of fun for children of all ages. For the most part, the music wasn't *entirely* my cup of tea, although I *was* surprised at how many Sophie Ellis-Bextor songs I knew… Also managed to catch the wonderful Mr.B The Gentleman Rhymer and of course, De La Soul, who were as fantastic as expected. Good times. Anyway - the food. Firstly, The Feast Collective is a great idea. For the most part, festival food is, well, shitty. I mean every now and again you'll get a good roast pork bun or something - but frankly it's *usually* overpriced and subpar. So the idea of getting a bunch of people together to do *interesting* food of decent quality is a good one. Well done, Mr. da Bank. There was a great range of places - I'm not going to go through them all, you can look for yourself here. So, in between numerous pints of Tuborg… 
…I got stuck in. I kicked off with a cheese and bacon burger from the Meatcure stand near the main stage. Served in a sesame seed bun, was a 6oz patty they got from their 'friendly village butcher' - underneath which sat some lettuce and tomato and on top of which sat some bacon, (great) fried onions and a slice of Monteray Jack cheese, all served with the usual sauces. 
Overall not terrible - I enjoyed it and I've definitely had worse, but it didn't set my world on fire. I suppose it encapsulated my general feelings towards traditional festival food - everything had been cooked already and the meal just constructed out of parts taken from silver trays keeping it warm. Hey ho. 
A drink or so later and I proceeded to The Feast Collective tent. It's great there are so many interesting eats under one roof - and some of the smells are fantastic. Next stop was DJ BBQ, who was rocking his trademark meat suit…
The man of many talents was cooking up a storm before spinning some tunes a little later in the evening. I went with the pulled pork burger - which was served in a soft 'semi brioche' bun with a slice of (cheddar?) cheese and the 'slow & low' pulled pork on top of a 7oz patty (see photo at top of screen too). 
It was about 3 mouthfuls in I realised there was no sauce on the burger (that I could see) - which was interesting and actually kind of nice, I think mainly because the pulled pork was *super* moist. Again, the patty was cooked a little more than I would have liked it, but overall a pretty great eat. Perhaps a little BBQ sauce or something (I'm sure there was probably some there that I missed) and I would have been a happy piggy. Two burgers down and no more on the nearby radar (I could eat GBK anytime), I decided to try something from Smokestak. Of course I lack the ability to choose between a pulled pork bun or a beef brisket bun, so I asked what thought was best. Both good apparently… but the brisket was 'just ready' so they said to go with that. And while I was waiting they'd let me try a little of the pulled pork. Ok then. The pork was wonderful - whatever they'd rubbed on it (mustard, garlic, brown sugar - and some other bits I didn't catch) was sweet and fantastic. Enough to make me think I may have made a mistake. 
But my brisket bun was equally as good. Soft, pink, not at all over seasoned and served in a toasted bun with some red peppers that tasted sweet and pickled - think peppadew and you're probably pretty close. In the meantime, the girlfriend headed to White Rabbit and picked up some BBQ chicken with tamarind and slaw. And really rather enjoyed it.
To be honest, I think she appreciated the choice. Being gluten intolerant, she's usually restricted to a few dishes and was certainly happy to have the choice. For once. After a drink and a 'digest my meal' stroll, I decided to try and shovel something else in. Despite what CBB will have you believe, 4 meals pushes it for even the greediest me. So for the last one I decided to try something a little less heavy. And the shakshuka from Poco looked perfect. Of course Poco also offered chorizo. And again - I can't choose, so I ended up with a chorizo sausage and the shakshuka (which is essentially an egg cooked in passata) served on top of a slice of sourdough. 
It was topped with some coriander and salt and pepper and I'm please to announce it was as nice as it sounded. And looked. And smelled. At this point it was close to 10, some places seemed to be slowing up and some places were running out of food for the day (damn you Cake Shop Bakery!). Whilst I'm sure I could have stuffed a donut down my food hole (again, damn everyone who finished the Cake Shop Bakery donuts!) what I really need to do was sit down with a beer and watch De La Soul. Which I did. The Feast Collective is definitely a step forward as far as festival food goes. Couple that with the lovely Camp Bestival atmosphere (and a couple of good bands) and you have a pretty great day (or weekend on the cards). Hooray!

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