Late Spring in and around The Dysart Petersham

Great new ingredients, surroundings that become even more beautiful as Spring finally bursts out and countryside and gardens alike that are covered in green all inspire a fresh, excited, spirit in the kitchen and turn minds to wines just right for the sun [or to make us think of it!] and the freshness of the lighter ingredients of the Spring/Summer. What a time of year this is! Now our uncomplicated love of place also bursts out and seems very natural.

Surroundings:

have come alive with vibrant greens and wild blossoms, from prunus, wild garlic to English bluebells, with walks full of simple wonder within moments of us, whether in the Petersham woodlands, along the river over the water meadows to Ham House and the Hamlands, or in Richmond Park, in all an ecological paradise. The sweeping new avenue of elms opposite us is already looking green and promising, a bold stroke in the Park and how wonderful to see elms back. There can be few such special combinations of rus in urbe as Petersham, so close to central London.

Wild foods and the garden: 

Wild garlic, both flowers and delicate leaves, wet garlic, chervil, wild fennel, juniper berries and needles, sloe blossoms, ground elder, rhubarb, white asparagus, wood sorrel, sweet cicely, lovage and soon elderflowers bring new, fresh flavours, making us realise Spring is here and triggering such cooking as freshly made wild garlic rolls and new breads, served warm.

The limited Spring season has passed for the Lough Neagh brown trout and skrei cod and we have enjoyed those premium fish, kitchen and diners alike, and we now move to other fresh, wild fish such as halibut. Spring lamb is on the menu; so too dishes that make the most of the new, early  chicken of the woods, vegetables and herbs, for vegetarian diners, vegan diners and for all of us who quietly enjoy ‘roaming’ over what Spring has to offer. We love working with these leaves, flowers and flavours, with the most delicate of dressings as they speak for themselves.

Freshness of flavours and aromas also turns our mind straight to the sea, with fine ingredients and that evocative, salty tang, which we reinforce with young Alexanders, sea purslane, sea radish, sea kale, purple dew plant.  

And it’s that time of year when English wines really come into their own, with a depth and range of styles from racy, palate awakening to the most delicate, elegant pinot noir, across England’s ‘wine belt’ as its reputation spreads far and wide.

It’s so easy to allow ourselves to imagine overlooking the sparkling sea of the Cornish, or Devon Rivieras, or sitting in the depths and quiet of the countryside, in the sun, light dishes on the table, linen napkins, English white wine, rosé ‘champagne’, or fine pinot noir in hand. 

In the garden: 

the sudden explosion of growth is a joy, with a succession of blossom, flowers and, of course, the need for maintenance and some channelling of the exuberance. Our hornbeam hedges went from brown leaf and twigs to that special green hornbeam has in all of 4 days! We will now be well into several light trims a year, starting very soon. The climbing ‘Compassion’ roses are so vigorous and healthy. Fingers crossed, pheromones [and a very close watching eye] are just managing to hold off  the dreaded box infestations. Our little patch of wild flower meadow has come alive.

This gallery brings together, surroundings, flowers, ingredients, dishes, wines in some of the magical moments for us, in the middle of all this beauty, over the last few weeks, come rain, or shine.