Hidden Harewood, Leeds

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HIDDEN Harewood is a mystery tour, a pop up, a kind of secret restaurant, not just immersive but literally a trundle through the forest complete with tractors, a recycled DAF troop carrier, fairy lights for guidance, open wood fires for atmosphere, branches of rosemary and a nine course dinner laid out around the grounds, something like a gastro treasure trail.

Josh Whitehead is more usually found at the Muddy Boots Café in Harewood village but he is also a Masterchef semi finalist and it is a Masterchef style of menu. If you found yourself sitting next to Greg or Monica and staring at a microphone being asked for your judgment, you might not be surprised. It is no picnic you understand but full blown restaurant cooking in the open air, or at least under a tarpaulin, army style. Impressario, for that is probably the best word, is Eddy Lascelles. Dress code is – this is Yorkshire after all – overcoats and puffers and no high heels. In case. In the old days this part of the estate was known as the Pleasure Grounds and in a way that is what this and other events to follow are doing again but largely making use and showcasing the exceptional resources the estate has to offer across 3,00 acres of prime Yorkshire farmland, home to Aberdeen Angus, to Hebredian sheep, two herds of wild venison to mulberry bushes etc.

Meet by the cricket pitch for Harewood gin and tonics (the aromatics include elderberries and mulberries from the estate). Then pick up the Leland Daf for a trundle past the lake and the stupa and into the heart of the woods. First stop is the cottage by the old walled gardens where tables are set up for sharing… a globe artichoke refilled with a walnut bagna cauda to be scooped out with excellent Sardinia style semolina, thin flat bread. And canapés of aged rabbit terrine…and bread and wine.

Then all up on to the trailer and tractor for a tour of the estate and decamp by the fairy lit path leading through the tunnel and round the forest to a huge tent, again all laid up in its finery. The cooking leans heavily on the estate produce – which is the point – but with international influences so it is all not all parkin and ginger beer by any means.

There is some local chorizo crumbled over the sea trout set on a bed of rice and corn. Then we get to the main event – wild red deer from the estate which comes as two courses, both this time Mexican inspired, as a taco for slow braised shoulder with lovage and juniper cream, served off a wooden chopping board – all the heating for the big house and the office comes from recycling their own wood. And then the saddle which has been conventionally oven roasted, then left to rest, then smoked lightly over open fire and finished with a mole sauce. Served just with carrots. It is a remarkably smooth cut, tender as fillet, the sauce offsetting any dryness. Excellent.

Pineapple is served warm as a wedge with a burnt lemon (with a blow torch) smoked cream. The ice cream boy comes round with cones of mulberry wood ice cream with roast grains, again a showstopper.

And then wander off to the sofas and chairs laid up on carpets in the forest and cubes of Greystone Negroni and mulberry s’mores aka marshmallows that have been toasted over the fires. Great fun and interesting food.

The next event will be Christmas dinners when the big house will host some and fun and games with videos and lights. If you don’t get there, Mary Berry’s BBC2 Christmas show was filmed here with Josh doing the cooking. Greg and Monica would be proud.

More on the house and grounds web here:

And on the food and drink and mailing list is here

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