We recently challenged a VIP guest to test-run Michelin-standard recipe boxes before introducing them as an additional option for visitors. We’re pleased to say Wild Radish has passed with flying colours and is now available to everyone who stays at Exmoor Character Cottages.
By Marion Edwards, May 2022
What a wonderful challenge! I was invited to test run a three-course menu from Wild Radish while staying in a lovely self-catering property, Stone Barn. The owner Lucy had invited me back to be the first person to cook this ‘Master Chef’ style recipe box meal before launching the offer to guests. Lucy knew I’d had cookery training under the Cordon Bleu umbrella. Given these aren’t just any recipe box – they contain the ingredients to make seasonal menus prepared by some of the country’s best chefs – she wanted someone who was a real foodie to beta test it.
Recipe boxes revealed
I willingly accepted the challenge! However, as the holiday grew closer, I began to doubt myself and ask, could I do it? Would there be enough equipment available in the kitchen? Should I take anything extra – my favourite chef knives, for instance? And so the list went on. In the end, I decided just to take a couple of knives and nothing else. After all, this was a test run to see if cooking a Chef’s menu whilst on a self-catering holiday could be possible.
On arrival, I found all sorts of goodies in our fridge, all carefully bagged and labelled – Starter, Main Course and Dessert. What was I about to cook? Roasted Beetroot Salad, with boiled eggs, radishes, mustard leaves and horseradish cream, followed by a main of Roasted Spring Lamb Rump with petit pois a la Francaise, and for dessert, Orange-Scented Creme Caramel.
I took the time to read the list of ingredients, the carefully planned recipe and the instructions. Wild Radish had set out everything very well, including the list of equipment I would need. Lucy and her team had equipped our holiday home so well that I did not need to worry about a thing. Even the knife block offered me the ideal selection of knives plus a sharpener should I have needed it!
From prep to plate up
I followed the instructions to the letter (after all, it was no good putting my slant on it if this was a test run). They were easy to follow, and step by step, it all began to shape up. I prefer to prep everything ahead so that I am not hovering over a kitchen worktop in an overheated frenzy when our guests arrive. Darting between the kitchen and guests with only snippets of conversation is not conducive to a happy host or guests.
Choosing all the elements I could cook ahead went well in the morning, and so I popped everything into the fridge for later. This left me free for a few hours during the day to continue with our holiday and explore our locality. Resuming cooking an hour before our guests’ arrival left me more than enough time to bring everything together, and continue to cook according to the instructions. All I had to do after our guests arrived was to plate up – relaxed, well-timed and certainly no stress.
A beautiful evening
Our guests thoroughly enjoyed the ‘Chef’s’ meals from our recipe boxes, not to mention the beautifully paired wine. I was proud of what I had presented – especially as I was working in a kitchen that was not my own. The food quality was excellent; our lamb rump was beautifully tender and a good size portion. Each course was more than adequate for even the most hearty eater. The best bit is often the last course, as with all great meals. The response, “I could have eaten a bucket of that Creme Caramel,” was unanimous. True – it was simply delicious.
My verdict on our recipe boxes
Would I repeat the process? Absolutely yes. I didn’t have to pour over recipe books to come up with a menu or spend an hour in a supermarket trying to find the cut of meat or jars of this and that.
I certainly wouldn’t have considered cooking a fine dining meal when on a self-catering holiday. We typically go out to a local restaurant. But often, that local fine dining restaurant is too far from your holiday home and speaking to Lucy, I know this is her primary reason for introducing Wild Radish to her guests in Minehead and Dunster.
Many visitors to the four Exmoor Character Cottages properties are foodies who love to eat out and cook, too – and there’s more time for that on holiday. Guests like to enjoy a glass of wine with their meal, but in a rural area like Exmoor, someone has to drive to the best places. And it is a sad reality that post-Covid, many good restaurants and eateries in West Somerset have closed, so options for eating out are limited or fully booked.
Recipe boxes designed for luxury self-catering
So, I can definitely say that I would highly recommend Wild Radish as an excellent alternative to dining out and certainly more fun if you enjoy cooking. I’d say give it a try. Wild Radish’s owner Anthea has created two options designed for Exmoor Character Cottages’ self-catering guests. The Welcome Hamper is intended for your first evening meal and takes the stress out of arrival day. It comes with the ‘Essentials’ box. The Brunch Package provides a late breakfast or early lunch for those who like to lie in and get up late on holiday. In my view (and Lucy’s) there’s enough for three meals if you opt to buy the ‘Complete’ package (Arrival meal + Essentials + Brunch).
A special recipe boxes treat – complimentary bottle of wine
I’ve just found out from Lucy that if you order a paired bottle of wine with your box (we did, and it was great), you’ll get a second free, courtesy of Wild Radish. You’ll find the link to order in your pre-arrival email.