Every now and then an event comes up and you just know you have to go. This was certainly the case when we heard about the Campfire Gin collaboration with Chappell & Caldwell to create a gin inspired, pop-up supper club in the distillery itself and coinciding with World Gin Day.
We’re big fans of Campfire Gin at TB. We hugely admire Ben and Kate for having the courage to set up an original, adventurous business surrounding one of our favourite products (obvs) and has pretty much the coolest branding out there. Like alot of our favourite local businesses — these guys work hard. They never rest on their laurels — there’s always a new product or event and all this while juggling running the distillery and balancing external work commitments. We’re always keen to see what they come up with next, as we know whatever it is — it will be brilliant.
The plan for this night was a collaboration with local chef Alison from Chappell & Caldwell who would create a menu inspired by the ten botanicals in Campfire Gin itself. Of course served with the food would be a selection of perfectly matched, individually designed gin cocktails (what’s not to love?!)
Falling on a perfect sunny evening, we met on the distillery steps, overlooking P E Mead’s farm shop. Greeted by the Campfire crew, we were served gin Martini laced with tiny orange peel flowers and with a fennel mousse amuse bouche. You’ve got to love a Martini for heading straight to your legs, taking the edge off the days stresses and easing you into the evening ahead. Perfect — we were set.
Once glasses were drained and introductions made, we were led into the distillery where we were presented with the most stunning setting. The guys have done an awesome job with the decor in the distillery — it’s perfect mix of rustic/ industrial and Scandi chic. The dressing for the night set it off perfectly, from personalised, brand-coloured napkins, to miniature bottles finished with copper wire and filled with beautiful rustic flowers from the brilliant Gillyflower.
First course was a salad of goat’s cheese, broad beans and lettuce with a British coriander seed and shallot dressing (the British coriander being the inspiration taken from the gin botanicals. This was served with the second of the gin cocktails (and my personal favourite) the Coriander Pink Campfire. The cocktail was designed to last two courses, which wasn’t a problem as the glass was the size of my head! Everything on the plate was light and full of flavour and the perfect way to kick off the meal. This was going to be good!
The next accompaniment to my perfect pink gin was a chilled soup of pea, lettuce, lovage and angelica leaf with creme fraiche. In this case the angelica leaf is the gin botanical that inspired dish. Yet another course that was light and fresh and full of flavour and everything you could want from a summer menu.
Alison, the chef and the Campfire crew took great effort to walk round the room and their twenty-four guests, introduce themselves and ensure that their every need was met. This really felt like a unique an intimate experience as well as opportunity to truly meet the maker.
Moving on to the main courses. First up was lavender smoked salmon served to the table steaming enamel pots with the salad of potato and golden beetroot served separately. In this case the lavender was gin botanical inspiring the course. The salmon melted in your mouth and the smokiness of the salmon was the perfect accompaniment to the tanginess of the beetroot with the oakiness of the jerusalem artichokes.
For the meat lovers there was slow roasted shoulder of lamb with juniper glaze. Of course, no prizes here, the juniper was the gin botanical featured in this dish. Once again another dish full of flavour and melt in the mouth.
With these main courses our cocktail was gin with lavender syrup, fresh orange juice, Fever Tree tonic and a mint garnish. All served in true Campfire style in one of their stylish enamel beakers. Another delicious gin cocktail with hints of Mojito.
Desert course was a vanilla pana cotta with physalis cake, physalis, grapefruit compote and puffed rice. The physalis was the gin botanical in this course. At this point I should probably mention that I am gluten free. I had been a little concerned that with a set menu I would be picking out the bits of food I could eat and passing the rest to Matt, but actually Alison’s menu was naturally mainly grain free and focussed on natural, fresh ingredients. The team also took my requirements extremely seriously and adjusted two of my courses (in particular the dessert) to be free from allergens.
The meal was finally finished of orris root chocolate truffles. Apparently this was the most difficult of the gin botanicals to include in the menu. I couldn’t really tell you what orris root tastes like but these melt in your mouth balls of deliciousness were rich and creamy and the perfect end to a perfect meal.
The final cocktail (and yes it’s true I was actually feeling a little sad a this point as we counted down to the end of the experience), was a short of cask aged gin with beech leaf noyeau and maple syrup. Just the right amount. But then of course you always want more…
We took a journey of flavours via the medium of gin and it was one of surprise and excitement and delicousness. I loved the relaxed setting of the distillery and the warm hosting skills of Alison, Ben and Kate. I feel incredibly lucky to have been part of something that was taking place for the first time, but I also feel sure that it won’t be the last of the foodie events we see at the distillery. Well done guys — this was a huge success and credit to your organisation and creativity. I just can’t wait to see what comes next!