In a world where few things manage to retain any sort of enigma, an invitaion to an event that was shrouded in mystery was more than welcome. Hidden Harewood was billed as a moving feast, which would take place at various locations in and around the sprawling Harewood Estate, where a menu designed by guest Chef Josh Whitehead would be enjoyed. And, besides being told to arrive wearing sensible outdoor clothing and footwear, there was no more information available. I was intrigued.
Upon arrival, myself and the other guests were ushered over to a gazebo near to the All Saints Church, against the backdrop of the stunning Harewood House. It was here that the mystery began to unravel, and it was apparent from the get-go that we were in for something quite special.
First up were the canapes, which were unlike anything else I’ve seen or tasted before, and included Venison Tartar with Wild Rice, Turmeric and Green Shisho, Parsely and Peanut and Chicken Pate Toast and Young Coconut (which was my personal favourite).
These were enjoyed with the darn fine Harewood Gin and mixer, as Josh (Ox Club) himself took time from his cooking duties to run through his creations. It soon became clear that the entire project was not just a group effort, but one born from the minds of some of the city’s most passionate foodies.
This team includes food and hospitality experts Sofia Rebello and Samantha Davies, as well as Harwood Owner and Director, Eddie Lascelles. It’s a partnership which really works, as there were very few hiccups throughout the evening, despite this being the very first event.
We were then transported by wagon across the estate to the Garden Lodge, which featured a beautifully decorated dinner table and possibly the world’s tiniest kitchen. Overlooking a lush green field filled with black sheep, it was an idyllic spot to enjoy starters as the sun began to set.
Here, we enjoyed sourdough bread with toasted peanut oil and burnt butter with grated smoked venison heart, before the main starter was dished up. And, as starters go, the Venison Dumpling was very special indeed. Served in a Woodland Broth with fermented turnip and kaffir lime, the mixture of flavours managed to both challenge and delight the taste buds in equal measure.
Before the magical mystery tour continued, we were filled in on the origins of some of the ingredients used across the menu. Turns out that all the venison we enjoyed throughout the evening was not just wild, but rogue, having escaped captivity to roam freely around the estate, feasting on a much richer diet than your average Bambi.
Of course, they were all recaptured and paid the ultimate price for their antics, but any guilty feelings were fleeting as we arrived at the The Hovels for the main course by candlelight.
The perfectly pink Harewood Venison was paired with a tasty perkedel (Indonesian fried pattie) and a spicy Sambal Matah, which confirmed yet again that marrying Asian flavours with Harewood Estate sourced produce is a match made in foodie heaven.
We ended the evening at Seven Eggs, which can be best described as the ultimate outdoor den. Beautifully lit and blessed with cosy seating and a scattering of miniature fires, it was a great place to enjoy dessert which included Banana and Turmeric and the rather moreish Chocolate and Tamarind.
Drinks were available to purchase separately at the bar here, which included a brilliant Harewood spin on the Espresso Martini.
Hidden Harewood is an absolute must for foodies, and offers a unique experience that simply can’t be replicated. The food alone was enough to make the evening, but the stunning location, attention to detail and talented team ensured it was unforgettable. Tickets for the rest of the week had already sold out the morning after my trip, so keep your eyes peeled for the next event. This truly is fine-dining redefined.