We have just catered our first wedding of the year at Wisley, which proved a good warm-up for the Taste of Wisley Flower (Flour) Fest that begins Bank Holiday Monday next week (May 4).
Our menu made the most of spring herb flowers and, on the morning of the wedding, the kitchen team were out picking wild garlic (also known as ramsons) for the starter course of wild garlic soufflé, which was garnished with the plant's pointed white flowers.
Don’t worry if you didn’t get an invitation! Although the wild garlic season is fleeting, we can extend it a little with preserving tricks such as making wild garlic pesto, which we serve with salmon in the Restaurant. We also make wild garlic tarts, rather like quiche in style, which you’ll find in both the Restaurant and Food Hall.
The wedding’s trio of desserts – mini lemon meringue pie, fruit ’n’ nut chocolate bavarois, and champagne rhubarb jelly featuring the first of this season’s Wisley rhubarb crop – was also decked with edible flowers, plus some tiny fennel cress.
Not just pretty faces
Edible flowers not only look pretty, they can deliver a lot of flavour too. The flowering heads of herbs are particularly intense. I’ve just been picking through a basket from the garden. We have a large amount of flowering chives, purple sage and thyme. These, plus the nasturtiums and spearmint, will go into our spring herb and artichoke salad with chive dressing.
Globe artichokes are flowers too, of course! We trim them and poach them with wine and aromatic seasonings before grilling. For the Restaurant we then use the artichoke poaching liquid to make a dressing with lemon and grain mustard, which we toss into a salad of courgettes, peas, broad beans and artichokes to serve with salmon.
Great British baking
Taste of Wisley’s Flower (Flour) Fest will also celebrate the products made here in our bakery. We hand-craft 21 different varieties of bread every day, from simple white baps to rosemary, raisin and hazelnut sourdough. Most of our flour comes from two Cotswold millers, one of which, Shipton Mill, specialises in organic flours and holds a Royal Warrant for HRH Prince of Wales.
Now that the Wisley rhubarb is in, keep an eye out for our bakery’s delicious rhubarb and ginger tart made with rough puff pastry. Have you got a favourite recipe using flowers or flours? Enter it in our competition – the winning dish will be featured in the Wisley Food Hall and the winner will receive a complimentary meal for four in the Restaurant.
How to enter the competition
Send us the recipe you'd like to enter with a photo and your contact details. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Taste of Wisley, RHS Garden Wisley, GU23 6QB
NB: there will be recipe cards in outlets in two weeks' time.