Two weeks ago I re-posted a review I wrote last summer about Camp Bestival, the family friendly weekend long festival held at Lulworth Estate in Dorset. If you read that review, you’ll know that I didn’t get the opportunity to fully submerge myself into the world of Camp Bestival, and specifically didn’t get the chance to properly review The Feast Collective; the celebration of some of the best street food in the country!
This year I promised myself (and my 12 year old step-sister Emma) that we would do it properly; the music, the attractions, the food and, much to my absolute dismay, the camping!
I’ve split this review into two because it’s quite a long one… like, I wrote essays shorter than this at university so, yeah… be sure to read the next instalment later, once you’ve caught your breath, had a sit down, a cuppa and let your brain return to normal… until then, here we go. Saturday:
A little bit of background about me: I HAVE NEVER BEEN CAMPING IN MY LIFE. I enjoy the comfortable things in life, like beds and roofs and central heating. Why anyone would ever choose to sleep outside on the hard ground, with nothing but a very thin layer of nylon between themself and the freezing night sky, is beyond me. And yet muggins here agreed to it. Well… more fool me.
Lulworth Estate is a beautiful place to visit. From my parents house in Oxfordshire, it’s approximately a two and a half hour drive. The focal point of the estate is the stunning and glorious castle which stands proud, overlooking the grounds. It works well as a tool for getting your bearings within what is actually a huge festival, hosting over 30,000 people of all ages.
We arrived at about 2.30pm on the Saturday. While the festival began on the Thursday, there is firstly only so much camping I was willing to partake in, and I also had work commitments on the Friday (humble brag: I went to the third day of the Ashes. Hung out in the commentary box. No biggy) The first thing we did before collecting our wristbands (and my press pass, because that is far up in the world I have now moved!) was pitch our tent. Now, like I said, i’ve never been camping before so obviously I don’t own a tent of my own, so we borrowed a “two-man tent” from my brother Jack and proceeded to erect it. That was the easy part.
I am a 25 year old female human being, measuring at 5 foot 9 inches tall, with all four limbs and a penchant for comfort. Emma is a 12 year old female human being of approximately 5 foot 2 inches with all four limbs and an ability to apparently just fall asleep anywhere. We are by no means “two men” and yet, we struggled to fit in this tent apparently built to accommodate two grown-up. Swinging a dead cat is certainly out of the question. I don’t know who is in charge of tent categorisation at Argos but they need to stop lying to everyone.
It’s strange how one can sweat so much when one is completely and utterly freezing! I probably got about 3-4 hours sleep on Saturday night, and it goes without saying that this was the low point of the whole weekend. Well, that and the trip to the toilets the following morning. It’s amazing how the night’s darkness brings out the worst in people (quite literally) and it is the toilets that take the biggest beating.
But now onto the important bit… the food. I was invited the Camp Bestival specifically to review The Feast Collective. As you’d imagine by the name, it is a collective of amazing food brought to you by various street food vendors who in some parts of the country (notably London) are hailed as minor celebrities. I have been known to journey across the capital just for lunch from some of these vendors. Street food is always fresh, high quality, affordable and delicious. In some cases, it is my absolute favourite.
The press team had given me a few vouchers to use at selected stalls within the collective so that I could try as much food as possible without rendering myself completely broke. We had built up quite an appetite from all the tent building and so our tummies were rumbling as loud as BJ BBQ’s baseline as we walked into the tent.
I really dislike people who don’t try new things. People who turn their noses up at new flavours and dishes make my blood boil. So it was huge relief to me that Emma was willing to try pretty much anything I put in front of her to eat.
I got myself my lunch first from the chaps at Seadog. I hadn’t heard of these guys before but I had a sneak peek at some of the bowls of food they were sending out to customers and was instantly intrigued by the flavours and ingredients being used in their seafood centric dishes.
We specialise in innovative world street food inspired dishes that take our local Devon catch on a wondrous journey across the globe picking up influence from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, latin America and beyond. Our trailer can be found in regular pitches, events and festivals across Devon and the South West with menus bursting with big flavour, spice, and the best of the regions seafood.
-The Seadog Website
I was given a press voucher for these guys and asked the very friendly fellow behind the counter what he personally recommended for a Seadog virgin. I always find when you can’t decide what to have, the best thing is the ask the people who made it what they think is the best. Who is going to know better than them, right? For him it was the Seafood Laksa (£9) and so that is what I had.
This was a beautiful, light, buttery bowl of laska. The broth was packed full of flavour (lobster oil, I believe he said) and the fish was moist (*shudder*), tender and meaty. The peanuts and seaweed gave the bowl a new texture dimension, while the occasional cube of pineapple that made its way onto my wooden spoon gave a quick burst of sweetness. I drained the bowl dry, slurping at the wide, slimy (in a good way) noodles as they dangled from my fork. The remnants of the bowl dripped from my chin (I eat like an absolute pig) but i refused to waste a single drop.
Emma on the other hand is a huge fan of BBQ. We queued a little while at the DJ BBQ where we had hoped to get her a child portion of the pulled pork burger, but by 3.30pm they had sold out. Devastating but not the end of the world. Instead, I convinced her that there was no better time for her to try her first ever burrito than right there and then, as Korrito, the Korean BBQ street food vendor often found at street food festivals in London, was just the other side of the tent.
Korrito had the longest queue of any of the stands in the tent, and if you’ve tried these burritos before, you’ll know why. I have returned two days in a row to enjoy one of these burritos in the past (They feature on my previous review of KERB food fest) because they just pack such a large flavour. Emma isn’t a fan of spicy food so we went with plain white rice rather than the kimchi rice usually served, and forwent the addition of chilis on top. Her meat of choice was the pork belly (the best choice in my opinion and only £7) and then we went and sat in the shade with a diet coke each and ate our lunch.
Emma’s reaction was exactly what this burrito deserved – pure glee. She probably hadn’t expected the intense BBQ flavour, or the subtle sweetness from the pear infused sweet & spicy marinade, but both provoked her to take giant mouthful after mouthful until she was full (which admittedly was only about a third of the way through – these burritos are total beasts, and weigh a tonne. You could seriously use one as a door stop.) at which point we packed it into our bag and went off exploring.
Like I said, Camp Bestival is huge. There is so much to see and do, from watching talks in the Guardian Literary tent to learning how to crochet and make pom poms… which is exactly what we did (after grabbing a Mr Whippy ice cream from a van outside)
There is something very therapeutic about winding wool around a few bits of plastic. We made a super cute hair band with our pompoms whilst eating a bag of Haribo gummy sweets (my latest vice!) and trying to decide what to do next.
We went on to explore a few other areas of the festival. The wellbeing area had plenty of natural treatments for those looking for a bit of TLC, from massages to chiropractic sessions, yoga classes to meditation classes. These can get a little pricy (about £45 for an hour long massage which I think is quite steep considering in some cases you’re just lying on the floor of a yurt) but after a few nights of sleeping in a tent, it might seem like a very small price to pay to get those knots out of your spine!
Dinner came round soon enough, but before that we headed towards ‘The Greatest Tent on Earth’ for a spot of adult comedy. Now, I enjoy a bit of risqué humour; to be honest, the dirtier the better. But when being accompanied by a 12 year old, it can get a little bit awkward, and that is exactly what happened when we watched the EastEnd Cabaret show.
EastEnd Cabaret is like the mutant child of a Victorian circus, locked away in the Pet Shop Boys basement and forced to watch nothing but Eurovision.
This double act refer to themselves as “professional perverts”, and with songs such as ‘Danger Wank’ and ‘Is It In Yet?’, there’s no wondering why! The act is hilarious, with audience participation, a LOT of sexual references and a dance moves to rival a Soho sex show, but I found myself hiding behind my hands, with my mouth gawped open like some kind of guppy fish as I sat with Emma. Needless to say her education was completed. As was mine. There was a warning outside the tent that this show was more suited to those aged 16 and above due to the use of swear words, but there was no way that at a family friendly festival that younger kids weren’t going to be present, so I was a little surprised by the content! But I enjoyed it none the less. If you want to see EastEnd Cabaret for youself, you’re in luck, as they’re currently performing a run of shows at the Soho Theatre until August 15th, and they have two shows at the Edinburgh Fringe at the end of the month. Grab tickets here.
Once my embarrassment had died down, it was time for dinner. We had been snacking a bit through the afternoon (I pretty much ate that entire bag of gummy sweets to myself, and Emma had made a serious dent in a tube of pringles) so we decided to share dinner: a box of DimSum dumplings from Dorshi – a Dorset based street food vendor which prides itself in using purely local ingredients. But they’re not just based in Dorset, oh no! 2013 was Doshi’s year, when the bright lights of London called them and they placed second in the People’s Choice Award at The British Street Food Awards! Bravo to them.
Emma and I shared the big box of 10 dumplings (2 of each of the 5 on offer) which included pork and black pudding, shitaki mushroom and free range chicken, all covered and presented with spring onions, sesame seeds, hoisin sauce and my all time favourite Japanese mayo, all for just £9.
As we ate our last dumpling we could hear the rumble of music permeate across the estate, as headline act The Kaiser Chiefs began their set. We didn’t bother going too close to the front as we had a great view from just in front of the castle. Ricky from KC (and The Voice judging panel) used the set to provide an education to those who had never been to a “rock” concert before, with tips on audience participation (when I sing X, you sing Y), and what it really means when a band says it’s their “last song”. They played all the songs they’ve had in the charts as well as the odd cover (Pin Ball Wizard!) and a few new songs (along with a plee to the kids to ensure their parents bought them their new album on Monday!)
After a quick turn on the beautifully illuminated ferris wheel, it was time for bed… We camped what seemed like MILES away. It was cold, the ground had become wet, and getting into our tent was like trying to shove a football into a golf hole. But we managed it, and at around 4am, I managed to fall asleep…
*Head to my next post to see what we saw and ate on Sunday at Camp Bestival*