25 June 2011

tea tasting

There are so many good reasons to pop into Petersham: the chicly distressed displays,

the fabulous flowers,

and of course the cakes and croissants! But on Tuesday, Sarah and I went for the tea, specifically an oolong tea tasting with Jennifer Wood, founder of the Canton Tea Co:

Oolongs are my favorite teas, and having sampled the Canton Tea Co's Anxi Rou Gui with Bee a few months ago, I was keen to try more of their offerings.

Oolongs (semi-oxidized teas) range tremendously in flavor from fresh and light to rich and dark. My top teas at the tasting were the Tie Guan Yin (Iron Buddha), Mi Lan Dan Cong (Honey Orchid, a 2010 Great Taste Gold Award winner), and Xing Ren Dan Cong (picked from a single 200-year-old bush).

It just figures my favorite would be a 'Connoisseur's' tea and the most expensive of the bunch! But luckily the Anxi Rou Gui and Tie Guan Yin are a lot less pricey. So now perhaps teatime at home will be nearly as exciting as teatime at Petersham!

23 June 2011

holiday next-the-sea, part three

While my favorite Norfolk walks are round Cley, I do love the long walk through Sheringham Park too, which passes through dense woods into rolling fields then onto steep cliffs dropping down to the sea:

And we timed our walk just right to see the North Norfolk Railway come steaming through:

A bit of old-time train spotting was followed by a bit of Old Town shopping in Holt. Old Town Clothing produces about 50 garments per week in its quirky yet understated 'British workwear' style.

Each item is individually cut, sewn, and finished, so you must order 4-6 weeks in advance. Luckily this year I'd thought and ordered ahead so was able to pick up two new Jaywick Smocks, one in Bermondsey in Bloom (blue floral) and the other in Mrs Wilberforce:

© Old Town

So I'm now appropriately attired to channel my inner 1940s housewife. But thank goodness I have a modern washing machine to deal with our holiday laundry!

20 June 2011

holiday next-the-sea, part two

While our holiday included two stately homes, we didn't actually enter either. We made a quick stop at Audley End on the way up, where we toured my favorite bit, the restored Service Wing to the side of the house,

then headed out for a very wet walk round the Organic Kitchen Gardens:

Sadly the glasshouses, where we'd spotted such amazing tomatoes and figs last year, were closed. But luckily the Blickling Orangerie was open when we stopped there the next morning:

The Blickling gardens were lovely--we particularly liked the hazy purple catmint borders--but we were really there for the food!

Last year, the National Trust failed to renew the lease of my favorite food shop, Samphire, taking over their beautifully done-up space at the estate entrance to run their own mediocre cafe. Bah. But after numerous protests and petitions, the Trust is allowing Samphire to run a summer weekend pop-up shop in the grounds. So we stocked up on my favorite quiches and pork pies:

And the big news is Samphire is now selling their pork pies and other goodies at farmers' markets too. So maybe if I keep my fingers crossed they'll open a stand at Maltby Street. Then I could do all my bread, meat, cheese, and ice cream shopping in one go!

19 June 2011

holiday next-the-sea

Just back from our annual week in North Norfolk, where we walked along the beach at Cley-next-the-Sea,

an unbroken swathe of sand

super for seaweed spotting:

We also traversed the salt marshes--our favorite walk from last year--where we indulged in a spot of amateur bird watching. And the best bit: just a few paces past the end of the marsh path, hidden up a forested track, is the Wiveton Farm Café,

the perfect place to recover, while nibbling fluffy croissants spread with butter and homemade jam.

There were rows and rows of berries to pick by the kilo in the surrounding fields,

but with just the two of us, we purchased smaller pre-picked punnets and other goodies from the shop:

The ideal way to fill a bike basket,

or a bulging bag or two if you've arrived on (blistered!) foot.

06 June 2011

open day

We were back at Petersham on Sunday, not just to try the new baguettes (though that would be reason enough)

or to admire the arrangements of peonies,

but to visit the private garden of the Nurseries' owners, Gael and Francesco Boglione. Sunday was this season's second Petersham House Garden Open Day, raising funds for the National Garden Scheme.

While their magnificent house and garden are adjacent to the Nurseries, up till now we'd only ever glimpsed a corner of the vegetable patch through the connecting gate...

I should have listened to G and taken more pictures of the planting scheme--the sweeping lawn, the beds brimming with alliums and poppies,

the walls covered in roses, and especially the 150-foot double border, of which this tiny specimen is my only reminder:

But of course this provides the perfect excuse to visit on the next Open Day. And I did get some snaps of the chickens and their rose-bedecked chicken coop:

Now I know exactly who's been making all that noise in the Nurseries,

though coffee at Petersham wouldn't be the same without a few cock-a-doodle-doos!

04 June 2011

celadon and cucumber

I usually find the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition disappointing. But as we had the invite and I'd marked the date on the calendar, it seemed a shame not to go. And I'm so glad we did.

There were still some truly awful pieces, but the standard seemed higher than in previous years. The redesigned print rooms featured works by some of my favorite artists, including Larch by Angie Lewin:

But it was this piece that completely made the exhibition for me, Edmund de Waal's white lacquered cabinet containing 70 celadon and white vessels:

© Edmund de Waal

I just finished reading The Hare with Amber Eyes last week, so stumbling on this work seemed fitting. Sadly it had already sold. But I suppose that's just as well: no need to talk G into remortgaging the flat!

For more affordable enjoyment, we made a detour on the way home to Maltby Street Market. While Neal's Yard Dairy, St John, and Monmouth Coffee all have premises here, we were on a mission to sample Kitty Travers' La Grotta Ices.

© Phaidon Press and La Grotta Ices, London, UK

A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, Kitty makes and sells artisanal ice creams from the back of her little white van. She was named in Coco as one of the world’s top 100 up-and-coming food personalities, and last year her company was named Best of the Best in the first British Street Food Awards.

And her ice cream is indeed the best of the best! G had Candied Kumquat and I had Cucumber and Sour Cream, already melting here in the hot Saturday sun:

Simply amazing! I'm so looking forward to opening the carton of Pea Pod Ice Cream we packed into our cool bag. And not only are her ice creams lovely, Kitty is really lovely too. I wonder if she'd consider training an apprentice...