On a damp Saturday evening, I found myself excitedly navigating the Devon lanes, heading towards the next Devon Food Movement event – this was a big one, “The Big Collaboration” at Ashridge Court Farm, featuring not only Luke but also six other talented chefs:
Run by Chef Luke Fearon, the Devon Food Movement is all about using food that is local as possible to the venue he chooses to pop up in. Every venue, menu and ingredients are different, which I believe makes this concept really clever and keeps it fresh; no two events are the same. You can read our 10 Question interview with Luke here. Chris had the pleasure of attending one of their events held at Sandford Orchard back in July, and now it was my turn!
The venue for this mega event was Ashridge Court Farm; situated in North Tawton, nestled in a valley of green pastures and sustainably managed wild woodland between Okehampton and Copplestone, dinner was being served in The Great Barn which dates back to the 14th century. The current custodians bought Ashridge Court in 2012, with the barn being in a badly deteriorated state. It was thanks to her daughter’s impending marriage and a bunch of girlfriends who had the vision that, with a little bit of work the barn could be a gorgeous venue. Renovations took place from April to August 2015 in time for the nuptials.
The barn was as rustic as you can imagine, but dressed simply and perfectly in twinkling lights, tables adorned with very natural foliage, and heat lamps for warmth.
There were just in excess of 100 people seated and there was still room for more. I was lucky enough to have sat next to the owner who fully conveyed her passion for her property, using wood from their forest and other natural materials from their quarry to bring the barn back to life. I found it so refreshing that, even though at a mature stage in their life, the couple seem to have a very modern and refreshing outlook, being up for anything that makes the most of what they have to offer, so long as people can enjoy their land and their barn – so if you want to get married or have an event or party, I’m sure they would work their magic and use their imagination to help you realise your plans and dreams.
There is even a baby barn, adjacent to the main barn, for caterers to work their magic in – which is what Luke and the team used, and wonderful large barn doors for you to park your horsebox or trailer serving refreshments like Trailer Maid Events did.
With courses including fallow deer, ox tongue, hogget – everything was incredibly honest, earthy yet intricate and well thought out.
Fallow Deer – crisp cubed nuggets of delicious meat bon bons
Taw Valley Beer bread with bacon butter – and oh so comforting on beautiful bread but the butter…oh the butter….
Oakhampton beetroot with cured cod and wild fennel – delicate yet firm fish with earthy flavours
Ox tongue with onions and parsley – a delicate and soft piece of meat with great textures and leaves to keep it company
Acorn farm hogget with smoked curds – this was a favourite amongst many, tender hogget accented by a tremendously tender and crunchy hogget croquette
Haytor Cheddar with apples and brambles (not pictured) then simply Taw River Dairy – there is a world of patisserie intricacy hiding under a candyfloss roof.
Full, satisfied, and with a happy soul from such a grounded, beautiful venue, we departed into the night.
To find out more about the next exciting Devon Food Movement event, visit their website. I would certainly mark their concept as ‘Dining Devon Recommended’
To find out more about the wonderful and versatile Ashridge Court, visit their website.
*I was a hosted guest of both Devon Food Movement and Ashridge Court to experience this collaboration, but this does not affect my opinion of the food or venue.*