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Campsites that openly encourage open fires, BBQs and have even built a clay pizza oven for you are quite a rarity and it was the pizza oven that sold this campsite to us.
We cooked pizzas in a clay oven at River Cottage last year so roughly knew what to do. First attempt at pizza wasn’t the best. We rolled the dough too big for the peel and ended up making a kind of calzone. Second attempt with a better heat from the fire and smaller pizzas did the trick. The men took the whole pizza cooking very seriously and managed to make some cracking pizzas. While they didn’t pass the official Napoli pizza rule of cooking in 90 seconds nothing beats a pizza cooked this way. The dough was just the basic dough from River Cottage: Bread with cherry tomatoes boiled down with a splash of olive oil, garlic and herbs for the tomato sauce then topped with mozzerella, mushrooms and salami.
Once the pizza oven was mastered we then went on to the newly purchased Dutch Oven along with the tripod that allowed us to suspend it over the fire. First thing to be cooked – popcorn. A slightly mad idea of mine but I couldn’t see why it wouldn’t work. It did work…kind of. Due to the pot being a bit too close to the fire once all the corn had popped the majority of the corn had burnt to a cinder. However the Dutch Oven proved a perfect method to make a sausage and lentil casserole. First browned the sausages, took them out then browned some onions threw in some tomatoes, lentils, beef stock some mushrooms, returned the sausages to the pan then simmered until the sausages were cooked and lentils beginning to break down. Very tasty and perfect after a long day. I had intended to try and bake some bread inside the Dutch Oven, but never got around to it.
Of course cooking on a campfire means 3 essential things: toasted marshmallows, chocolate stuffed bananas and dampers. Cooking these took me straight back to Guide camp 15 odd years ago. Hubs took his role of Grr Caveman very seriously and whittled some sticks to allow us to cook the bread on. All those years of worshiping Ray Mears paid off. Rather than traditional damper dough we made normal bread dough, gently roasted over the fire then ate some with our main meal and the rest slathered in jam for our pudding. Delicious.
Foraging wise we picked lots of blackberries, which naturally ended up in a rather large jug of Pimms, plus at one point nearly picked what looked like some chanterelle mushrooms but we weren’t 100% they were so left them well alone.
As well as the food we made on site Hereford is known for its apples and cider. Something we were determined to try. There is an offical Cider Trail you can follow but the first place we visited, Carey Organic Cider , was an experience. When we turned up to the farm shop, situated in a barn in the middle of the farm, we were greeted by lots of beautiful produce that had been grown there along with an old looking cider press and barrels of cider. Unsure as to what type of cider we wanted the gentleman let us try the cider as dry as it comes. I will say I have never tasted such a great cider. The general consensus in the group was to sweeten the cider very slightly to make it medium dry and the gentleman sweetened it with sugar there and then. It was very much like a traditional scrumpy and was rather strong stuff. The 5 litre box we bought didn’t last long. I think I’ve been converted to traditional non-fizzy cider now. Along with the cider they also sold amazing pink-fleshed apples from there. I can’t remember the variety but I think they are old variety. As stupid as this sounds they were the strongest tasting apples I’d had in a long time. Beautifully sweet and tart at the same time. We also visited Stowford Press as Carey Organics is only open on Fridays & Saturdays. The bottles be bought from here have very much been the drink of choice since we returned.
We ate breakfast and dinner on site, but for the majority of days ate Lunch off site usually at the places we we’re visiting. Best lunch was the Hampton Court Cold Platter at Hampton Court Castle (more on this spectacular place on the next post) and worst was an awful sandwich at a historic farm that has been on various BBC series recently. How can I put it, it tasted of the farm.