Last week I found myself at the gates of the Harewood Estate, with very little idea of what to expect from the evening ahead. The event was the secretive Hidden Harewood, a pop-up supper club with Ox Club chef Josh Whitehead that promised to showcase the best the Harewood state had to offer. I knew I had to dress for the outdoors and that I was going to be fed…and that was about it.
We were greeted outside Harewood All Saints Church by Eddy Lascelles, the founder of Harewood Food and Drink Project, who gave us a quick intro to the evening and explained the concept of Hidden Harewood. Josh Whitehead was challenged to create a menu that captured the taste of Harewood, relying as much as possible on produce that could be sourced directly from the estate.
The result is an earthy feast with a heavy focus on deer and seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as Harewood’s own gin infused with berries found on the estate. The menu for the evening was helpfully presented to us in gorgeous sealed envelopes, through a series of cards with courses on one side and illustrations of the dining locations on the other.
We were first presented with three plates of appetisers – chicken pate toast, an Indonesian-inspired venison tartar, and a parsley and peanut sponge. The sponge was the biggest surprise, packing a lot more flavour than I was expecting, but the pate toast was my winner. We washed it down with our welcome drink; a Campari and Harewood Gin mix that was refreshing while delivering a real kick.
We quickly moved on to our first dining location, climbing aboard a huge truck that bumped us along dirt paths through the fields of the estate. We arrived at a tiny cottage called the Garden Lodge, set alongside a field of sheep where the sun was just starting to set.
Here we were served plates of warm sourdough bread with toasted peanut oil and burnt butter with grated smoked venison heart, and then a venison dumpling in woodland broth. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this was the richest meat I’ve ever eaten.
The real wow factor location was reserved for the main course – a beautiful stone house with huge windows that’s inaccurately named The Hovels. As far as dining settings go, you really can’t get better than this – I’m actually stunned that the Harewood grounds aren’t rented out for weddings and parties. The long dining table was set with candles and flowers, and a wall at one end was decorated with leaves. Our dish was a perfectly cooked piece of Harewood venison, pink all through the middle and served with lawar, perkedel and sambal matah, all Indonesian-inspired.
For me the best dish was definitely saved until last. Mysteriously listed in the menu simply as ‘Harewood mulberry tree’, our dessert was a delicious ice cream made from the bark of a 100 year old mulberry tree grown on the estate. The result was a creamy, coffee-like flavour, complemented by a bottom layer of stewed mulberries and topped with blackberries.
We couldn’t leave without a nightcap, so there was one last stop. A path lit with fairy lights led to a clearing where there was a large tent with comfy seating, fire cauldrons, and a bar circled by stone columns. Trays circled carrying chocolate and tamarind truffles, pear marshmallows and banana and turmeric cake. I ordered a gin espresso martini from the bar and finished my night in front of the fire, feeling jealous of all the people who still had this evening to come over the weekend.
Sometimes I am blown away by the cool things I get to experience because of my little corner of the internet. Thank you to I Like Press for the invite, and to Harewood Food and Drink Project for one of the most memorable nights of my year. You can keep an eye out for future events on their website.