Feast At Nancarrow
Looking for a special evening out? Try the wood-fired feasts at this picture-perfect Cornish farm.
The hospitality at family-owned, Nancarrow Farm is becoming legendary in these parts and I was super excited to get down to one of their spring feasts this month. I have to confess; I’m fairly new to the world of feast nights and supper clubs (thanks to two needy mudlets) and was worried it might be a bit cool and cliquey – but it’s not at all.
Have you ever been to a wedding where you didn’t really know anyone but ended up having a brilliant time? Well it’s a bit like that but better, because you can go in jeans and don’t have to sit through endless speeches or dance to Abba. Plus the food is incredible (but more on that later).
Situated in the beautiful countryside, a hop from Truro, Nancarrow has been a working farm since 1805 and is known for its award-winning, organic lamb and beef. The family, who’ve been in residence for nine generations here, is committed to rearing their livestock the old-fashioned way but decided to branch out in 2013.
Three barns were converted, the farmyard got a facelift, an outdoor bar and kitchen were built and hey presto – one of Cornwall’s most sought-after wedding and events venues was born. The feasts have been going since 2014 and they were quickly a sellout success. Here’s the lowdown…
How the evening rolls
In case you were in any doubt about Nancarrow being a proper working farm, guests are parked next to a field of some of Instagram’s most-loved bullocks. Then we walked down to the courtyard, to be greeted by our incredibly affable host Steve and instantly furnished with a cocktail (brandy infused, fortified wine and tonic, since you ask). Guests are then welcome to wander around the nearby bits of the farm, following a little hand-drawn map, past the characterful Tamworth pigs, chickens, fields, farmhouse and tipis.
Canapés are served from the open kitchen in the courtyard as guests arrive, then you take your place at the candle-lit long-tables in one of the beautiful oak barns. There’s a seating plan and I have the feeling some careful thought had gone into it, because we were surrounded by super-friendly and likeminded fellow feast-goers, which massively added to the experience.
There were lots of Nancarrow regulars in attendance and the staff seemed to know lots of the guests by name. Other than the folk who were staying in the farm’s lovely rooms, most of us were out the door by about half ten – into the kind of clear starry night you only get right in the middle of the country.
What we ate
The thing that really sticks out about the menu for me was how celebratory it felt – paying gastronomic homage to springtime in Cornwall and the farm’s gorgeous organic produce. At the feast we attended, it was all about beef and due respect was paid to the 11-year-old South Devon cow that fed us for the evening.
I also felt I was getting a bit of an education. Chef Darren talked us through the menu at the beginning of the meal and I definitely sampled a few new things: cultured butter (who’s virtues were hotly debated at our table), truffled salad cream (universally praised), gooseberry marshmallows (what’s not to like?) and cured and grated ox heart (the only way to eat it in my humble opinion).
We started with a delicious cured salmon appetiser, followed by a crushed potato and ox-heart starter but the organic Nancarrow beef stole the show. It had been cooking slowly all day, over the fire in the courtyard and was served up perfectly pink, alongside some really tasty and interesting side dishes: moreish creamy spelt with chanterelles and a chargrilled gem lettuce salad with peas and leeks. Lemon meringue tart was the ideal choice to finish; much more delicate than the classic dish, it was refreshing and not too heavy.
Dates for May
The team has two events planned for May. The feast on Wed 10 May centres on the farm’s Tamworth pork and the other, on Wed 17 May, is the first in a series of Farm Gate Feasts, run in partnership with other members of the local farming community. It will take place at Tregassow Farm near Trispen, known for its amazing asparagus, which will be served up with organic Nancarrow lamb. Book here.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Anyone looking for a special evening out. There were people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, work colleagues, couples and families. And obviously meat lovers will be in their element.
Not for: The anti-social. If you like to keep yourself to yourself, you probably won’t enjoy it, it would feel really weird not to engage in conversation with the people around you at the long tables.
££: Feast nights at Nancarrow generally cost £38 per person and the recommended bottle of wine for the night was £20 (a really well-matched Bordeaux, supplied by Truro wine merchants, Old Chapel Cellars, who happened to be sitting next to us).
Nancarrow Farm, Zelah, Nr Truro. t:01872 540343. www.nancarrowfarm.co.uk