I have never been particularly into festivals or camping, but when I recently got the opportunity to work at Wilderness Festival from August 3 – 6, I knew I absolutely had to take it.
Wilderness is a festival for ‘Nomads and gastronomes. Rockers and roamers. Drifters and dreamers. The reclusive, the wise, the weird and the wild.’ Held in the beautiful Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, it has something that appeals to pretty much everyone: a host of workshops (from paddleboard yoga, tai chi and calligraphy to the more eccentric taxidermy, ‘pimp your pineapple’ and hunter gatherer cookery classes), talks and debates, theater, live music, and an almost overwhelming array of food stalls to chose from – many of which provide healthy and/or plant-based options. (I’ll leave you to guess which of these factors held the largest attraction for me 😉 )
Despite working throughout the festival (I was there to support one of the food brands), I was able to soak up the incredible atmosphere and general good vibes. It was wonderful eating my early morning bowls of granola and nut butter in the warming rays of the sun, watching the white tents in ‘The Sanctuary’, and the yogis and interpretive dancers (I think that’s what they were doing?!) come to life. I also enjoyed going for walks in the scenic ‘wilderness’ and soaking up the peace of nature (luckily without bumping into the ‘dance your naked truth’ participants), away from the business of London.
Outside of our shifts, my lovely friend Amy and I made the most of our free time by exploring the stalls and tents throughout the festival. We also attended a fabulous free workshop by The Cutlery Commission on spoon engraving. We had fun punching letters into a metal plate with hammers until we were ‘ready’ [not really] to personalize our own vintage spoons. The result is these two items of customized cutlery, whose wonky engraving in no way detracts from the pride we feel in having created them 😉
As to the food, we were spoiled for choice and had real difficulties in deciding where to go when we weren’t having (delicious!) food on shift.
The highlights were, without a doubt:
The Beer-Battered To-Fish with pickled cabbage, salsa verde, pickled chilies and sour cream (all vegan) on soft, dark corn tacos was an absolute dream! It was unlike anything I’d had before – the perfect kind of vegan ‘junk food’ that didn’t leave you feeling gross, but nourished and satisfied. I also got to try some of the incredible (!) BBQ pulled jackfruit burrito, which Amy went for and kindly offered me some of. It’s put jackfruit back in my good books, after a horrendous encounter with a pulled jackfruit burger a while ago.
Verdict: a must-try! (for info on where to find them in London click here).
Now, this was not a new one for me, as I first had a Vurger at Balance Festival (see my review here), and again at the Pillbox Kitchen in Bethnal Green. Surely the fact that I went for this again, amidst so many new options, speaks for its utter irresistibility!! I went for the MLT again (baked mushroom and borlotti bean patty topped with a sundried tomato, basil and walnut pesto, with vegan cheese and in the best burger bun) and it truly was the most soul-satisfying experience!! Amy was just as satisfied with her Auburger (chipotle smokey Aubergine, red onion and a chickpea patty topped with cumin mayo and pickled cabbage – and extra avo 😉 ).The only disappointment was that they weren’t serving the Truffle Mac n Cheese at the festival – as I’m super intrigued by this.
Definitely check these guys out, see where they pop up next, and keep your eyes peeled for a permanent location in London!
(Featured here with the peanut butter brownie our friend Lauren went for. And yes – not the best quality picture!)
Amy and I were both craving something sweet in the evenings and, on the hunt for something to satisfy our cravings, we stumbled across Bad Brownie. While not a plant-based company, they do sell a vegan (and gluten-free) salted caramel brownie, which we could not resist. The brownie was wonderfully rich, with a pleasantly fudgy texture (nothing worse than a dry brownie).
Speaking of vegan brownies, however, I can’t not mention the brownie I had today, because it absolutely blew the Bad Brownie one out of the water! After arriving at King’s Cross St Pancras from a short trip to Lille, I had to make a cheeky stop at Vx (a little vegan shop on Caledonian Rd with treats and – so I’d heard – the best vegan brownies). The salted caramel brownie I had from there was honestly insane. Richer, fudgier, gooier than the Bad Brownie one – and probably the unhealthiest thing I’ve eaten since going plant-based! Oh my… But, I assure you, I didn’t feel even the slightest inkling of guilt as it was just so incredibly delicious – the sweetness wonderfully complemented by little kicks of saltiness. Another must-visit!
(The salted caramel brownie from Vx)
The big disappointment for me was the açai bowl by Boa Vida Açai. I was genuinely shocked by how little I was able to enjoy it, as it was like eating tasteless slush. Harsh words, and I wish it had been otherwise, but that’s all I can say about that.
To conclude on my time at Wilderness: It was an intense immersion into a truly weird and wonderful world, with amazing people, incredible food, stunning nature – all of which more than made up for the bipolar weather, the disappointing açai, and the cold, mostly sleepless nights in the tent. (Special shoutout to the best tent-buddy ever – wouldn’t have made it without you Amy 😀 😉 )