All my dining dreams of hosting meals and sharing this beautiful walled garden came true this last weekend.
I have wanted to create supper clubs and curate unique experiences for a long time. We whet appetites with our ‘Foraging by Punt’ last May down the River Cam and we pride ourselves on matching our classes, be it private or open, with seasonal dishes but we wanted to do something special here on our plots. The ‘Dine Among the Flowers’ weekend came about from a ‘Flowers from The Farm’ initiative. We are members of this network promoting flower farmers across the UK. August 16-18th was named as the ‘Flower Farmers Big Weekend’ where we were encouraged to open our gardens for lunch.
After a chance meeting with Liz Young (ex. Cambridge Cookery School Owner and now running her own Fine Dining business ‘The Modern Table’) we spoke about wanting to present interesting dining experiences in special locations and curate unique occasions. Soon we’d inspired a couple of other like-minded makers and the dates were up on Eventbrite.
These are the biggest set of events we have held in our new studio and gardens, as long-time followers know, we only converted the studio and Braybrooke garden this time last year. However, we were all so enthusiastic that it really was one of the easiest and most enjoyable experiences to prepare and host.
We kept numbers small to provide an intimate experience. Convinced that the diners were as important as the location, food and atmosphere, we wanted their participation completed events rather than simply 'attend'.
So often florists and makers ‘create’ a scene and a shoot to showcase their talents and give clients ideas. Whilst the tables looked beautiful, it was only once our guests arrived, that all the care and attention was realised.
Fortunately, we had anticipated the rain on Friday night for our ‘Dinner Among the Flowers’ so we were able to use the studio as our dining space, with Ruari entertaining us with his singing and jazz music, the atmosphere was magical.
Riadh began the evening with a botanical cocktail, rose ice cubes, and guests toured the farm with Alex and I. Liz looked on from her kitchen outside and created a magnificent 8 course menu designed around ingredients we’d grown including the flowers, herbs and damson plums together with those from Flourish Produce (Vegetables), Allotment (Bread) and Hum- Closen (Cheeses). Wine was on sale from Thorne Wines, Riadh from Bumble and Oak made show stopping chocolates and Jess from ‘Bake by Day’ assisted Liz in the kitchen. On the tables, Gemma and I filled Gabby’s 'Shop at SEED' ceramics made especially for the dinner, with scented leaves, grasses and botanicals creating a simple tablescape. Every vessel was sold that night with guests taking away their foliage filled vases, a souvenir to remind themselves of the evening and ensuring we could never ever recreate the event again.
The next part of our extraordinary weekend was ‘Lunch Among the Flowers’. After rain all night and morning showers, we were thrilled that the sun shone so that Liz could cook on the open coals and create a special Meze of dishes. Being outside enabled us to lay one long table and initiate conversations between the guests. We ‘grilled’ Liz on the provenance of the ingredients, asked about new dishes and tastes. Riadh told us all about the chocolates, flavourings, health benefits and how she had created natural colourings herself.
Again, Gabby made platters especially for the occasion. The bright dishes from Liz presented beautifully on the muted green and natural finishes of the ceramics. This time we arranged single stems of dahlias in simple glass bud vases complimenting the bespoke plates and ‘fiesta’ style celebration.
After a tour of the gardens, Will played a DJ set of fusion beats live creating a different atmosphere entirely from the previous evening and completely perfect for relaxed meal where guests grazed over a long lunch and delicious plate after plate of little tastes.
Since, I have been asked many times ‘when will you do it again’ or ‘I will definitely come the next time’ but there may not be another next time! As flower arrangers, cooks, makers etc, we like to create especially for the event and client. We all agreed that we don’t like to rehash or recycle ideas. This was a unique set of occasions and simply what we wanted to do. Bring together like-minded makers to produce something enchanting for guests that were prepared for a feast of the senses! We didn’t give details of the menu, but they were told simply only of the collaborators and location.
We have plans in the pipeline for more events, so watch this space. However, the only thing that will be in common to these events will be food and natural decorations. Fancy coming along for the ride?
Photos by Elley at Clarabama Productions.
Anna's Flower Farm plots and studio space are available to hire for private parties and photo shoots. We can curate and provide a special event just for you including bespoke classes, talks, tours and experiences with food and refreshments provided. Contact Anna to start planning.