Friday, 14 September 2012

The Underground Restaurant at Bestival 2012

Les girls. Costumes by Ruth Bennett
Preparing for brunch: making bread by torchlight; fishes and loaves; a mutineer's breakfast
Bestival: Wishing Tree Field

Coconuts: cocktails and south seas soup

Costume details
Exotic fruit plates at the brunch

Scenes from the Underground Restaurant
Sienna's seating plan; the man who brought our clams for the vongole; a propped up slopey kitchen. 
Drinks in the rowing boat; black boards outside; Shipwreck pavlova
I loved finding props and styling this project. Drunken bottles, globes, rum shots, maps, seascapes. This restaurant was inspired by the novels of Patrick O'Brian, set just after Nelson's death. 
Valerie June looked like a crew member; an Isle of Wight Elvis came to visit; cabin boy Jim welcoming guests

Brunch: home made muesli, Bloody Marys with rosemary; yoghurts and fruit, home made bread and jams, Marmite, ricotta hotcakes and maple syrup, tea and coffee.
We all joined in with The Crew, an Isle of Wight shanty band; ex X factor contestant Paige Richardson jammed with them; Main stage act Skinny Lister

Brunch: ricotta hotcakes with maple syrup; Head chef Angie made these cute 'fish' butters.

I had a fantastic mixologist in Poppy Farrugia who works at Golden Bee bar in Old Street; her wonderful mum Denise, who runs a tattoo parlour came too. 
I served the vegetarian spaghetti in maps and banana leaves which seals in all the taste.
Props: seashore books; Victory Ale (we also sold other era appropriate drinks such as 'sack', or sherry; port and madeira); map cushions in wooden boats; 'mapkins' and sea shells on trunks; ships in bottles
I used Garofalo pasta, bronze die pasta from Gragnano in Italy. I experimented with cooking times. If you have a very good quality pasta, it's very difficult to overcook it. The mains course, Spaghetti vongole al cartoccio, was very difficult to do for so many people. It required precise timing. This was 11 minute spaghetti. We needed to cook it for six minutes then place it in a sealed parchment bag with the sauce and bake it for five minutes. I would dearly love to go to visit Gragnano, to find out more about pasta.

South Seas soup with sweet potato, plus chilli, coconut and lime sambal
Spaghetti vongole al cartoccio
Isle of Wight tomato salad
Pirate Pavlova
Top right: one lady came to brunch with her hair in a towel, having just showered.
Isle of Wight local sea shanty band The Crew who both looked and sounded very authentic. 
Isle of Wight tomatoes, a 'compass' salad
Gizzi Erskine adored my spaghetti vongole in a bag
Skinny Lister and Gizzi
Sunset pirate

Thanks to Come Cosi tomatoes, Garofalo pasta, Vitamix UK (vital to make the coconut lime sambal), Wines of South Africa, Rabl wine, Merry Widows wine, Green Pan UK, (a lifesaver for the ricotta hotcakes), Bestival, Josie and Rob Da Bank, Katie Maddison, Gemma Thorogood, Ali of Bristol Vintage, Kellie Edmeades for doing accounts, Achillea Flowers, Dionne Leonard for menu maps and constellation flowers, Kiren Puri,  Marmite, The Crew (Sue Rose, Jan Young, Phil Young, Sam Brookes, Shane Brookes, Barry Seaward, Paul and Lindsay Sturgess) and all the cast of The Underground Restaurant. (Kitchen: Angie Hodgkinson Day, Luke Sutton, Tyler Bladebone, Karolina Kulesza, Kat Baily, Gareth Harris, Beggs. Front of house: Tanya Moulson, Ros Brooks, Jeannie Miles, Izzy, Selina, Sarah Servante. Bar: Poppy and Denise Farrugia. Seamstress/costumier/wise woman: Ruth Bennett. Door/handyman and the guy who makes me laugh, Jim Pennington. Sienna Rodgers for sorting out the bookings and keeping me sane. Missed you Imo x


  1. Looks like a fabulous event. I love the menu and styling.

  2. I couldnt have said it any better to be honest! keep up the awesome work. You are very talented & I only wish I could write as good as you do :) …

  3. Swashbuckling costumes!

    The shipwreck pavlova on a return voayage. Bet the coconut hollowing day was memorable.

    Wow! Looks like I missed a good one!

  4. I bought ready hollowed coconuts! (memories of last years horrendous pumpkin hollowing out sesh).
    But there was quite a bit of coconut cracking and skinning for the coconut sambal.
    I'll do the recipe in the next post. it's totally addictive. Missed your packing expertise. I forgot so much stuff.

  5. You are so creative, it is awe inspiring.

  6. again - it looks amazing!!! Wish I was there! xxx

  7. Wow. That looks like so much fun and yummy!!

  8. Quelle folle journée!!!!
    Merci pour ce très joyeux spectacle gourmand!!!! les photos et l"ambiance SUPER! Bravissimo!

  9. Your creativity is awesome. I just wish I'd been there. Shipwreck meringue - wonderful stuff. Having just won a Vitamix need that recipe!


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