14 Apr 2010

In Season - Winchester Watercress

It’s only a couple of weeks until the Alresford Watercress Festival which takes place just a few miles down the A3 from me. During a day of community celebration, the elected Watercress King and Queen travel down the main street atop a horse and cart and distribute the first of the season's harvest to festival goers.

Iron rich, vitamin fuelled, nose twistingly peppery and utterly delicious, watercress is often overlooked as an ingredient despite its similarity to rocket. For the best of the crop look for fat clusters of wet, deep green leaves and eat as soon after picking as possible (it is notoriously perishable)

Here are some delicious watercress menu ideas for your next event...
- Starter: Gingered watercress soup with toasted sesame seeds
- Main: Duo plate of watercress blinis with smoked trout and cucumber vermicelli
- Salad: Organic watercress with roasted sweet potato and toasted walnuts
- Canapé: Seared fillet of beef in Yorkshire puddings with watercress hollandaise
- Fish: Roast monkfish on crushed potatoes topped with watercress
- Afternoon tea: Finger sandwiches of wafer honey baked ham, cream cheese and watercress

7 Apr 2010

London in Surrey: Nonsuch Mansion

It's been just nine months since the end (or I suppose the beginning!) of our most epic project to date - refurbishing, rebranding and relaunching Nonsuch Mansion

To say that this Surrey venue has become a labour of love for Bovingdons would be a huge understatement. Well before the contract was won, we had fallen completely in love with this treasured venue and could not wait to throw open its doors and help make it the success it deserves to be. The 2010 / 2011 diary acts as reassuring evidence that plenty of others feel as passionately as we do.

Set at the heart of 300 acres of sumptuous parkland, its features appeal to both head and heart. In a practical sense it has a prime location (half an hour of London Victoria, minutes from the A3 Tolworth), space for up to 250 guests, a fascinating history and a perfectly flat lawn with plenty of scope for marquees.

But the real test of a venue is always in the way that being there makes you feel and the first few hosts have told us that they felt "cherished", "serene", " and "like royalty" on their important night.

You can read more about the venue the website, or for all of the mansion happenings and news you can read the Nonsuch Mansion blog or join the hundreds of followers and fans on Twitter and Facebook. And, of course, watch this space!

2 Apr 2010

The Sweet Smell (and Taste) of Success

As you can probably tell, the chefs and I adore any opportunity to work with a client with exacting standards, impeccable taste and high expectations. A challenging (or even impossible sounding) brief fires my imagination, as does the chance to transform a brand into a dish or distil its message into a bite.

Last week we served the result of a really great brief for the private launch of a new scent collection at Leighton House. We had been asked to create a menu to satisfy the tastes of eminent fashion, beauty and lifestyle editors as well as present food that would be a perfect representation of the well-known fragrance brand. Every item served needed to reflect the values of the company and entice the busy journalists to linger on and learn about their fabulous new product.

This bespoke breakfast and brunch menu was served during two separate morning and afternoon sessions. Each item was designed to be especially petite, smaller than a typical bite sized canape. Perfectly cooked, carefully prepared morsels to suit our client's perfectly tailored guest.

(If you are curious about the launch, click here to read a full report)

Tiny crisp new potato filled with sausage, bacon, tomato and mushrooms
Mini waffle cones with creamed eggs and smoked salmon with chives
Fresh blinis with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers
Quails egg Royale
Brioche French toast with orange infused rhubarb
Ricotta cakes with fresh blueberry compote
Prism skewers of morsels of fresh fruit
Shot glass of light granola and yoghurt

Seared fillet of beef on watermelon cubes with pickled ginger
Sultana bread croute with Dolcelatté, caramelised fresh fig and pomegranate
Julienne vegetables wrapped in Bovingdons cured salmon
Asparagus bundles tied with chives with a vanilla pomegranate mayonnaise
Cucumber cups of lemon, tarragon chicken
Herb blini with Crayfish tails and mirin spaghetti of cucumber
Ricotta cakes with oven roasted plum tomatoes and basil
Herb ficelle of lime cured cerviche of sea bream

Chilled Juices
Blood orange and grapefruit
Cranberry and watermelon
Fresh pear and vanilla

Refreshing Pressè
Watermelon, cranberry and rose water
Apple juice, elderflower, lime and mint
Pomegranate pressè with sparkling mineral water

Hot Beverages
Espresso shots
Fresh sweet mint tea