The team at Secret Adventures, provide unsual, off-grid escapes, in the city and beyond. They organsie events that are meant to bring you closer to nature, meet new people and forge new experiences. In their words – they are ‘a community of adventurous souls who like to explore new places, meet new people and lead a life less ordinary’.
This sounded like our sort of people. So, when they invited us down to experience their latest offering; a four course meal enjoyed alongside a small gathering of likeminded humans (The Woodland Feast) we were excited to try it out.
What’s better than the Great British Countryside? Our woodlands! Come rain or shine – they are sacred places that can help Londoners de-stress and recharge from the daily grind of city life. The ‘secret’ part of the organisers’ name turned out to be the location – this is withheld from participants until they confirm their booking (the place is tucked away, 10 minutes walk in the heart of mature woodland).
To reach the venue you are greeted by the team and venture on a little walk towards the dinner’s venue. Here you are welcomed with a foraged botanical cocktail (or mocktail if you’re the designated driver) made using Cockburn’s Tails of the Unexpected White Heights Port. This tasted so much better alfresco, served by the fire.
It rained on our evening but somehow that added to the cosy experience – the fire, the canopy and the sounds of rain as we stood tucked away made it unexpectedly magical. Have you ever been in a forest when it is raining? It was like a natural woodland chorus sung around us as we engaged in conversation with fellow diners, the chef and the Woodland Feast team.
The one-of-a-kind, four-course dinner did not dissapoint. We watched as it was prepared in front of us over the open fire – a key element to the charm of the evening. The smell of the burning fire combined with the fresh scent of the forest during rainfall was something quite magical. Like natural aromatherapy on steroids.
Now on to the main event – the food. This was delicious, unpretencious fare. Think roasted aubergine and salt baked celeriac for starters, woodfired chicken and caper remoulade for mains and roasted sweet potatoes (quite possibly the best I’ve tasted to date!). There are vegan and vegetarian options available such as beetroot, butternut and mushroom pithiver with caper remoulade which smelled divine courtesy of the sage jus.
For desert we enjoyed the lemon and elderflower posset – which was beautifully balanced by the crumbling fresh lavender shortbread. A real feast for the senses.
After the three course meal was devoured – we all gathered by the fire to enjoy aromatic foraged tea, wood-fired coffee and massive home made marshmallows – I had not tasted homemade marshmallows before but I will make sure I do again!
And as the woods were getting ready for bed, the light fading, the conversations subdued, the fire glow dimmed and just as birds chirpped their bedtime stories we took a walk, holding hands, breathing in the fresh air and feeling grateful for all that nature offers so generously.
The woodlands and surrounding villages are beautiful to explore and are situated within the Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty. The nearest train stations are Goring on Thames, Pangbourne and Reading. Reading station is just a 23 minute train journey from London Paddington. You will be sent a Google pin drop with the exact meeting location of the woodland car park with your ticket.
Secret Adventures also organise and fund some very special events and adventures in partnership with local charities to help children escape the city. So, your adventure can help fund some children’s adventures too. The Woodland Feast runs on various dates throughout the summer and autumn until October 2022 and Tickets cost £70. For full event information and bookings visit their website here .