Celebrity chef Mike Robinson and Champagne Gosset will create a new gastronomic experience for audiences at the inaugural season of The Grange Festival, the UK’s newest country house opera festival, in the heart of Hampshire. The UK’s most prominent game chef, Mike Robinson became nationally known after appearing on television’s Saturday Kitchen and Great Food Live and presenting ITV's Countrywise Kitchen. He is internationally recognised for leading the revival of game cookery and in 2008 Mike co-founded The Harwood Arms in Fulham, the only pub in London to hold a Michelin Star, an accolade held since 2009. His restaurant Pot Kiln was voted number 6 in The Sunday Times’s ‘Top 15 Country Pubs and Restaurants’ in 2016. The Grange Festival has invited The Wild Fork, which Mike Robinson co-founded in 2005, to create quintessentially British country food and deliver something distinctive for The Grange Festival audiences in their first season and beyond. The Wild Food Feast Menu, created exclusively for The Grange Festival, will be served on private balconies overlooking the estate and include rare breed beef wellington or nettle crusted Berkshire venison haunch. Downstairs in the Dining Room, guests will be treated to an indulgent three-course menu, featuring hand-carved Iberico ham, grilled sea bream, herb gnocchi or wild venison from Hampshire Downs, and much more. Alternatively, it will possible to order a luxury hamper, which will be ready and waiting for you on the day. Audiences will be able to enjoy their picnic in one of the new Pavilions with tables and chairs, or in the grounds overlooking the lake.
A 100-minute interval during the opera performances will allow audiences to take in the surroundings of the new park, redesigned by beloved broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh and landscaped architect Kim Wilkie, and plenty of time to enjoy Mike Robinson’s Wild Food Feast Menu and Champagne Gosset.
Mike Robinson said: “The Wild Fork is delighted and honoured to be providing the catering services at The Grange Festival this Summer. Our passion has always been providing great drinks, great food and a great atmosphere for our guests and to be given the opportunity to do this at such an iconic venue is very exciting. The Wild Fork’s friendly, distinct service and skilfully crafted menus aim to enhance the visitor experience to the festival even further, in tune with the grandness of the occasion and the local, seasonal bounty available to us. Whether it is canapés before curtain up, a hamper for the interval or a more formal dinner in the dining room, The Wild Fork promises to make the food as memorable as the occasion.”
Festival goers will also have the chance to enjoy wines from Champagne Gosset, the oldest wine house in Champagne. The House was founded in 1584 by Pierre Gosset and today, 17 generations later, maintains a tradition of family craftsmanship, creating wines which first and foremost express the authenticity of their terroir which is based on the region’s rich chalk soils, hillsides and cool climate.
Gosset creates a range of fine wines of which the region’s bubbles are just one element. The complex flavours and nuanced characteristics of each have long made them a fixture in the some of the world’s finest restaurants. Chef de Cave Odilon de Varine selects wines from mainly premier and grand cru sites surrounding the villages of Epernay and Aÿ. It is thanks to the House’s long history, small scale and reputation that he has access to some of the region’s best sites.
The art of blending is key to the wines of Champagne and is a skill learnt over many decades. Odilon de Varine puts the extensive range of crus available to him to good use and each spring blends the House’s new wines, with the freedom to reject those which are found wanting. Once bottled the wines are placed in the House’s deep cellars for extended ageing, another element which sets the House apart, giving the wines time to reveal their many layers of aromas and flavours.
Will Oatley, Managing Director of Louis Latour Agencies, who represent Gosset and other leading family-owned producers of still and sparkling wine and cognac, said: “We are thrilled with our association with the Grange Festival and The Wild Fork. I can think of few better ways to spend an evening; opera, Gosset champagne and Mike Robinson’s wonderful cooking all in the wonderful surroundings of The Grange estate. We are very much looking forward to the first year of our partnership and the years ahead.”
The Grange Festival, the UK’s newest country house opera festival, opens its first season on 7 June with a brand new, visually arresting production of Monteverdi’s Il ritorno di Ulisse in patria, directed by acclaimed theatre director Tim Supple and designed by Sumant Jayakrishnan, followed by Bizet’s Carmen and Britten’s Albert Herring. One-night-only performances of the Verdi Requiem and the John Wilson Orchestra celebrating Rogers & Hammerstein and Rodgers & Hart will complete the main season.