The Big Feastival 2016: The big review

For the last long weekend of 2016, we've been lucky enough to take part in Jamie Oliver & Alex James' The Big Feastival, situated in the quaint and serene Cotswolds. Here I walk you through some of the highlights of this fantastic event though I am sure this won't do the festival justice - it really was excellent from start to finish!

 Welcome to The Big Feastival

Welcome to The Big Feastival

We started the day bright and early so that we had our tent pitched, and everything else sorted. As people started filing in I left Al with our belongings and went straight for this:

 Our tickets, passes, and vouchers!

Our tickets, passes, and vouchers!

I need to make mention at this point that I won the whole experience through an Instagram prize competition which @ClerkenwellBoyEC1 ran a few weeks ago. I was so chuffed to be named the winner and of course it was such a treat to be at the event! I've been wanting to go since The Big Feastival first started out 5 years ago.

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There was a fun fayre, with some rides and a Helter Skelter as the centrepiece of it all! The festival was brimming with food, drink, and activities which Al and I were so eager to take part in.

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Of course we started off with a few drinks at our campsite and met our lovely neighbours for the weekend (who are incredibly organised camping aficionados). To formally kick off this fabulous weekend, however, we made our way to the VIP tent, where we knocked back some Laurent Perrier Champagne, and soaked in the view (as well as the beautiful decor courtesy of The White Company.

 I was immediately transported to paradise!

I was immediately transported to paradise!

 The Great British Summer in its prime

The Great British Summer in its prime

 Getting us in the mood for #GBBO 2016...

Getting us in the mood for #GBBO 2016...

After GBBO 5's winner Nadiya Hussain's interview, we moved on to try some of the food in the festival, which I had been looking forward to all week.

 Le Bun Truffle Burger

Le Bun Truffle Burger

Le Bun's truffle burgers are h e a v e n! Every morsel was definitely worthwhile, and the juiciness of the beef ran all the way through. It was so good we had them again! We had a chat to one of the co-owners of Le Bun and found out they're London-based. You can get in touch with them here.

 I like big butts and I cannot lie...

I like big butts and I cannot lie...

After this meal we spent the rest of the day wandering around, finding out what activities we could do, and checking out all the other food stalls that we were keen to try. Of course, I had to spend time in Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park, where I met some awesome 4-month old Berkshire pigs, fed and got cosy with a few goats, comforted a sad-looking donkey, and watched a chook lay an egg!

 My new beau ;-)

My new beau ;-)

 The menu

The menu

After such a leisurely afternoon, we headed back to camp to get ready for Friday Night Supper Club - a 5-course al fresco dining experience hosted by Neil Borthwick (Merchant's Tavern) and Mich Tonks (Rockfish, The Spiny Lobster) - in aid of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. I enjoyed the food as much as I enjoyed talking to the fantastic people that we shared our table with, and listening to Frankie Furlow, who played us music for most of the evening (thanks for giving me a copy the EP, guys, and for doing a brilliant version of Slow Dancing in a Burning Room). There were two highlights for me in terms of the meal: the charcoal roasted monkfish, which was served with romesco sauce and braised fennel, and the fusilli (not rigatoni as it says on the menu!) with ox cheek and Barolo ragout.

 Charcoal roasted monkfish

Charcoal roasted monkfish

 Fusilli 😍

Fusilli 😍

At dinner, Jamie Oliver dropped by to say hello! I was incredibly excited as he's probably the person who got me into cooking in the first place. I remember that when I moved to Australia in 2009, I treated Jamie's Ministry of Food like my bible. As you can see, his work influences me massively to this day. I love his style of creating hearty, nutritious food, with just the right dose of indulgence.

With bellies full and lots of wine and champers drunk, we quickly made our way to see Mark Ronson's DJ set. Of course he did not disappoint - I was so happy to see one of my favourite producers/musos live. The end of the evening was a blur - but it definitely set us up well for the rest of the weekend!

Come Saturday morning, I think both Al and I were feeling rather delicate - perhaps I more than he - so we went straight back into the festival grounds for some grub. After sharing a cheeky pork and sage sausage roll from Little Jack Horners' (hands down the BEST sausage roll I've ever had, EVER), we chose to have the carne paella from Paellaria UK. I'm afraid to say that this was the meal we disliked the most, and I put it down to us being really early and getting served undercooked rice. The chorizo was good though and I got a pretty hefty serving so I can't complain. My fragility remained, and so we went back to camp for a kip. I ended up reading my book and catching up with our delightful neighbours; they too, had a messy night. Cheese toasties may or may not have been consumed.

Much to our surprise, it started storming really hard. We sought refuge in our tent, and popped open a bottle of Prosecco, which was a terrible idea as it exploded everywhere (that's what she said, ha ha)!!! We decided that we should just brave it and go back to the festival grounds. I was supposed to attend Madeleine Shaw's yoga class but obviously that was cancelled. Yes, it did storm pretty hard, so we ran to Shack Revolution for some mojitos and a little bit of roof over our heads (to be fair we were soaked through so it was more the mojitos that we needed).

 Can't have a festival without a bit of mud!

Can't have a festival without a bit of mud!

As you can see in the photo above, the rain, lightning and thunder stopped eventually... After about an hour or so. Haha. It was right on time for our gin masterclass with Sipsmith. This is another one of the highlights for me - learnt so much in an hour (and drank lots of gorgeous gin, too).

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 Truffles at Le Bun

Truffles at Le Bun

After this, we had some cheese toasties, more Le Bun burgers, and lots of beers at the different Birra Moretti stands. Our evening ended with a lot of dancing - thanks to DJ Fresh and Tinie Tempah. Sunday morning we were obviously worse for wear, and packed up. There was one final thing to look forward to: pizzas from Made of Dough! Unfortunately I have no photos of our delicious pizzas, but they were absolutely stunning. So stunning in fact that I *might* just cross the river to Brixton one weekend to have my fill of their chorizo pizza!

On the whole, I think The Big Feastival is a great weekend away especially for those with families. The food is especially good - I don't think I've been to a festival with such an excellent selection! The music was also great but this wasn't the main feature of the event - still, to have Mark Ronson and Kaiser Chiefs is brilliant. Alex James was a great DJ, too. I highly recommend this festival who's a foodie and also keen on getting active (as there's plenty of opportunity for that as well)!

Just wanted to say a big THANKS to @ClerkenwellBoyEC1 for spoiling us rotten this weekend - make sure you give him a follow on Instagram as his content is hot, hot, hot! He's pretty much my go-to guy for all food-related adventures here in London!

Big love guys, and see you soon with some recipes (sorry I do have a backlog, haha!),
The Academicook