Alongside spectacular music (exclusives from Jack Johnson and Ben Howard), cutting edge theatre and outward bound adventure, the groundbreaking new festival Somersault has placed a serious emphasis on food. Over 4 days some of Britain's hottest restaurants - Fifteen Cornwall, Outlaw's Fish Kitchen, The Ethicurean and Pitt Cue will host indulgent outdoor banquets. It's a unique idea brilliantly suited to the laid-back, convivial festival setting and the old school grandeur of Castle Hill - beautifully decorated long tables with pitchers of wine and beer and sharing platters of exquisite food, much of it cooked over fire. On Friday (18 July) Fifteen Cornwall's Andy Appleton brings his trademark rustic Italian food to the festival utilising the best Cornish ingredients with a menu that features lobster risotto, grilled meats and vegetables with aioli.
We designed the menu around being in a field and first and foremost being seasonal. I wanted to enhance the theme of being an outdoor BBQ and that's why I included lots of wood-fired meats and seasonal veggies, who doesn't like a BBQ? I love rustic, hearty food packed full of flavour, it's what we do at Fifteen Cornwall and it's what I love to do at home.
The focus of the feasts is on sharing - is that a style of eating you also like to encourage at Fifteen Cornwall?
We've recently introduced Cornish Chicken (www.cornishchicken.co.uk) as a supplier, where we simply roast a whole chicken in our Josper charcoal fire oven with a sprinkling of rosemary, lemon and garlic. We serve it on a large platter for two people to share. We also do a Cote du Boeuf to share and this has proved to be really popular. It's definitely something we like to do at the restaurant and I would see more of on our menu.
You are passionate about provenance. Can you tell us about some of the ingredients you're bringing to Somersault?
As it is July we are bringing the first of the season tomatoes from our supplier Butterilla (www.buttervilla.com) , they will simply be at their best. I have also included summer berries which will be in full swing by the time of the festival. We work with small artisan, local producers and we will be using as many of these guys as possible as part of our menu.
And what are you most looking forward to at the festival?
It will be really great to get out of the kitchen and be part of the festival scene - we have done it before and it is definitely something I would like us to do more of, as and when we can. I'm also looking forward to a large glass of red at the end of service. Nathan Outlaw is bringing his latest venture Outlaw's Fish Kitchen to Somersault on the Saturday (19 July). Naturally fish and seafood take centre stage with a pretty outrageous sounding menu - sharing platters of beetroot cured salmon and barbecued seafood skewers with aioli toast.
What was important to you when you were devising the menu and which are the unique elements really reflect your style?
My menus always begin with the seafood available to me, what's in season and what is the best quality at any given time. Next I want that seafood to be the star of the show so I treat it with respect and cook it simply but using bold and complex flavours as accompaniments that complement rather than mask it.
The emphasis at the feasts is on sharing which should work brilliantly in a festival setting. Is this a style of eating that you also like to encourage elsewhere?
I really like the concept of sharing plates. I think that's something they have completely right on the Continent. It makes a meal so much more of a social occasion. That's partly what's behind what we do at Outlaw's Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac. The menu there is one of small fish and seafood plates so that customers can order several to share. That way they can sample lots of dishes in one sitting and it's great fun too. We don't do sharing plates in the other restaurants but I'm told by the front of house that there's often a bit of unofficial sharing going on at tables which is good!/>
You've made Cornwall your own with 2 restaurants and have recently started Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac. Can you tell us what you most love about the county and the produce you find there.
Where do I start? Cornwall has so much to offer in my view. For a start it's a great place to live and work. It has two different sides to the coast, wild and rugged on the north side and more gentle on the south. In between there is beautiful countryside and moorland. It has a micro-climate that means things grow here that won't grow elsewhere in the country. The pasture is lush, meaning that animals grazing on it produce the very best quality meat and milk. It does rain quite a lot but that keeps it green! It's usually warmer than anywhere else in the country. The fishermen, farmers and producers I deal with are passionate about what they do and generally life is very laidback. What more could I want? On Sunday (20 July), Bristol's much loved (and impossible to get into) The Ethicurean takes to the stove with a menu devised by Matthew and Iain Pennington - lunchtime features a spectacular sounding vegetarian feast. Below the brothers talk to Country Calling.
The Ethicurean founded its reputation on fantastic food using produce from the walled garden a healthy dose of eccentricity. How are you taking your style with you to Somersault?
This year we won't be bringing our walled garden with us but we will be bringing our family team. Marina O Loughlin sums up the essence of The Ethicurean experience: "There's a magical walled garden just outside Bristol. Inside, instead of fairy stories, you'll find the most creative, seasonal and joyful cooking, a hearty serving of boozy bonhomie and a dash of English eccentricity." Our aim has always been to re-imagine historical British recipes and celebrate the wonderful ingredients that are part of the glorious English countryside. We will be serving a savoury strawberry salad, a playful twist on an ingredient usually found in puddings. Jack will be shooting the Roe deer for the feast and Paula's Mexican heritage is present in our fermented tomato and smoked chilli sauce.
The menu for the Sunday feast sounds amazing, what did you focus on when you were designing it?
It's a real mix of our favourite seasonal dishes from the restaurant. All the dishes lend themselves to sharing and are a riot of colour and beauty.
The sharing element of the feasts seems to mirror the community-driven ethos at The Ethicurean. Could you tell me a bit about that?
We celebrate the changing seasons here at The Ethicurean. We Wassail our orchards in January, hale the sun of the summer solstice and honour the dead on Dia de los Muertes. For each of the occasions we hold a wonderful feast and provide big sharing plates. We want to create a sense of place and community through our food and events re-imagining and updating our local rituals, histories and traditions.