A Fine Spring Day

19 March 2007

While I’ve been struggling to update my blog, the days are getting much longer, flowers are starting to bloom and my cat has been moulting heavily (!) Although we had quite a mild winter this year, I’m still happy that spring is finally here.

I wanted to share the lovely day I had here last weekend – I’ve written about this place before and I was delighted to be back for this special occasion.

Petertsham Nursery is such a beautiful, unique place that makes you want to come back again and again. As well as the ‘garden centre’ part, the food they serve makes this place even more special. The Australian chef Skye Gyngell‘s focus on local, seasonal produce (they grow most of the vegetables/fruits/herbs in their garden) makes for unpretentious and honest food. I should say that her food ‘brings me joy’ rather than just saying ‘it is delicious’ – and that’s definitely one of the reasons I like this place.

The nursery has held some great events, inviting acclaimed chefs/food writers for demonstrations etc – with their Australian connection they had Bill Granger last summer also – you can read about it here. Last Sunday, it was a Middle Eastern feast from guest chef Greg Malouf (with writing partner Lucy Malouf), an author of three books: Saha, Moorish and Arabesque. Their gorgeous latest book, Saha – a chef’s journey through Lebanon & Syria, has just been published in the UK and Europe and they were in London to promote it.

Greg grew up in Australia as a child of Lebanese parents. He spent his childhood seeing his family prepare traditional Middle Eastern food which developed into a passion and led to him becoming a chef. Lucy kindly contacted me before she left Melbourne and as much as I was looking forward to meeting them, I was also just happy to take some photos during the event, it was great fun!

The workshop started in the late morning with lovely pomegranate cordial (I liked it so much that I had to make some myself as soon as I got home :) the recipe is in Saha), followed by their demonstration of the following menu:

Lamb rack with dukkah and parmesan
Preserved lemon guacamole
Lentil tabbouleh
Plum muhallabeya (Lebanese milk pudding with orange blossom water)

Greg and Lucy demonstrate as a team. (top right) Rose Gray from River Cafe gives some advice on where to find Middle Eastern ingredients in London.

As you know if you’re a fan of their books, Greg and Lucy have been working together for a long time – although they are no longer married, I must say that they made a perfect team at the demo. Greg often goes off on tangents and Lucy does a good job of reining him in :)

We tasted some samples of each dish – I knew I would enjoy all of them and I certainly did :) I loved the Persian candy floss too, which Greg topped the milk pudding with (pictured above, bottom right). I was happy to find out that the nursery now sells some of the Lebanese preserves, olive oil etc – I got some flower waters/syrups from Mymouné this time and can’t wait to try those with Greg & Lucy’s recipes :)

The workshop and the lunch were separate events but most people managed to stay for both. Having tasted the gorgeous samples earlier, I don’t think anyone would have wanted to leave without enjoying it more! The lunch was prepared by Skye and her team, inspired by Greg’s modern Middle Eastern recipes.

We started the meal with the famous Petersham rose bellini. I wasn’t looking at the menu properly but it was certainly a feast – it seemed like an endless banquet and we were nearly full even before we saw the mains coming! The menu included:

Haloumi and mint fatayer
Swiss chard, caramelised onions & tahini dressing
White beans with olives & goats cheese
Turbot with golden spices & citrus salad
Aleppo-style beef fillet tartare with green chilli, mint & hot mustard
Labneh with zhoug and souj bread
Barrel aged feta with winter rhubarb

Giant couscous tagine with roasted spiced hallibut, clams, squid and fennel
Pigeon bisteeya
Secrett’s Farm beetroot fattoush
Vegetables cooked in sweet spices

Turkish delight ice-cream with cardamom minaret wafers
Walnut baklava
Spring fruits with rose water syrup

I was too busy enjoying the food to take pictures of all the dishes – everything came on large shared plates, but I think I was the greediest person at the table :) I especially liked the turbot & citrus salad, beef tartare, tagine with hallibut (loved the giant couscous), and of course, the ice-cream (similar to the one I made here). All the dishes were full of flavour – especially the vegetables, I’ve added some veg/fruits into my list that I’d like to grow in our allotment! I enjoyed talking to people at the table too – most of them live nearby and they were telling me how special the place was and how much they enjoy coming there.

Greg and Skye get applause

As Skye told us at the end of the lunch, they worked very hard for this event and it was indeed a special meal. I loved her interpretation of Greg’s recipes and kudos to everyone involved!

Greg and Lucy are now travelling in Turkey researching their next book – although they’ve been extremely busy on this trip Lucy has managed to write about it on her wonderful blog. I can’t wait to get a copy of their new book, and hopefully they will be coming back for another workshop :)

The sun was already setting when I left the nursery – I didn’t realise that day passed so quickly. I’m already looking forward to going back to this place and I know I will soon :)

Misc    Places    59 comments    Permalink

  • Welcome back! Just want to let you know that your blog inspires me. Your photos are so beautiful and calming… like the world is such a sunny place :) All the best in your endeavours!

    Posted by Kaz | 19 March 2007 #
  • It’s absolutly wonderful ! Love every thing also the food of course, but the place, the tables, the dishes …all details…. seems to be a book !! bravo !

    Posted by mercotte | 19 March 2007 #
  • Keiko what a super day. And thanks for introducing Lucy’s website to us.

    Posted by Barbara | 19 March 2007 #
  • what a lovely event! and gorgeous photos! it felt like I was sitting at the table enjoying the food too!

    Posted by Kat | 19 March 2007 #
  • Nice story and wonderful photos as usual. What is the sparkling wine or champagne being served in one of the photos?


    Posted by Francesco | 19 March 2007 #
  • The colour scheme is incredibly beautiful, what a marvellous place! Needless to say that the photos are marvellous too…

    Posted by ilva | 19 March 2007 #
  • Wow, that sounds like an amazing event and the photographs are stunning, as always :-)

    Posted by Julia | 19 March 2007 #
  • Keiko – The Petersham Nurseries has been on my want-to-visit list ever since I read about it on your blog few months ago!! The event sounds like a dream – thanks for all your lovely photos. I’ll be in London with my bf in mid-April, and I think I’ll try to check out the place finally!

    Posted by Pille | 19 March 2007 #
  • Hello,

    Oh this is such a gorgeous place. I know I’ll go back again as soon as I have another chance. What was the pomegranate cordial made from? (I liked their Blood Orange & Pomegranate Prosecco as well.)

    Great to see you are doing good, take care and see you (hopefully) soon! -C

    Posted by chika | 19 March 2007 #
  • Dear Keiko, by the time I leant about the event I was too late to join it so I was pretty sad. I had been waiting to read about it here as I KNEW that you would do a fabulous job of showing wonderful pictures and telling us about it as only you can do. How lovely. I really like middle eastern food. I have been wonderging where to buy the candy floss. did they give names of shops where they can be found? Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience.

    Posted by valentina | 19 March 2007 #
  • Hi Keiko – You might have been tired of hearing this, but I will never stop saying it: The photos are amazing.
    Turkish delight ice cream? Sounds very exciting. Why haven’t I thought about that before? The rest of the menu sounds very interesting, too. I must say I am very happy to hear that their next book will have some influence from my country. Can not wait to see that!

    Posted by Cenk | 19 March 2007 #
  • fantastic post, thank you so much for sharing your amazing pictures with us. you’ve added yet another destination for me to enjoy whilst still in london.

    Posted by matt | 19 March 2007 #
  • Hi Keiko!
    I was just flipping through SAHA in my favorite bookshop and loved it! Your pictures are a great tribute to the workshop, the place looks wonderfully decorated like a scene from A Thousand and One Nights :)

    Posted by Nicky | 19 March 2007 #
  • what a beautiful feast. your photography is really brilliant. thank you for sharing the event with us! and welcome back ;)

    Posted by Linda, The Village Vegetable | 19 March 2007 #
  • This post more than made up for your absence! I’m cheered up by all the festivities and beautiful colors and people!

    Posted by tut-tut | 19 March 2007 #
  • You know I spend my days reviewing photos, but this entry (and your work in general) really captures the essence of the space and makes me feel as if I am there. I can’t explain it really, other than I feel transported by your photography in a manner I don’t experience too often.


    Posted by matt | 19 March 2007 #
  • dear keiko, i feel i am almost there at the fabulous event thanks to your sensitive, inspiring, evocative, and above all beautiful photography! i excitedly bought the saha book some months back and am ashamed to say i have yet to try any recipes from it – thanks to your post, that will have to change shortly of course :)

    Posted by Joycelyn | 19 March 2007 #
  • Keiko u wont believe it,just yesterday i was thinking that its been long since u’ve put up a post and anytime now i will be seeing one frm you.and u did not dissapoint me.Fantastic pictures,so colourful,so grand,looks like a fairytale place with great food.I would give anything to be there though with your pictures i already feel that way.Thanks for sharing or i would’ve never known all the wonderful things that are there around us.

    Posted by Kate | 19 March 2007 #
  • one discovery one dream , share this kind of tremendous event ! thanks for sharing the beauty

    Posted by Eivlys | 19 March 2007 #
  • Very very nice pictures you have in your blog.

    Posted by suzanne | 19 March 2007 #
  • Congrats on the mention in the Michelin newsletter

    Posted by Barbara | 19 March 2007 #
  • Keiko,

    thank you for posting a birthday present for me! What a nice surprise. I recently ate a lovely rose & pistachio ice cream, remembering fairntly about how Persian New Year and my birthday coincide…

    Posted by shuna fish lydon | 20 March 2007 #
  • Skye is a regular contributor in delicious., an australian-based mag on food & wine. And her restaurant in a nursery sounds like a fantastic idea. I’m so envious of the great food you’ve tried and the chefs you’ve met. Recently, we had the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in Singapore with the longest lunch banquet table ever held. Recipes were inspired from Bill Granger and there was also a food and wine fair. It was a gorgeous way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

    Posted by steffles | 20 March 2007 #
  • Keiko,
    I know the feeling of being blogged down, but how I miss your posts!Happy spring!

    Posted by Jeremy | 20 March 2007 #
  • Hello Keiko,I’m an “addict” of your blog! Each new post is a pleasure for my eyes and my stomac ! I’m now pregnant ang begin my leaving pregnacy, so I have time to cook recipes and took photo in Lille (it’s a very nice town) with my canon Eos 400 (I’m an amateur but my photo is not so nice, fantastic than yours. )Could you give me some advice about the lense you use : is it a canon 50mm f/1.8 or f1.4 USM or 1.2 USM? Thanks in advance and thanks for the pleasure you gave us

    Posted by Audrey | 20 March 2007 #
  • Thanks for sharing these inspiring moments: The photos are great. I like the details and your style of writing these great posts. The “spring” feeling really gets up to me ;-)

    Posted by Christian | 20 March 2007 #
  • Oh Keiko, you manage to transform every event into a fairytale with your beautiful photos and eye for detail! This meal sounds absolutely marvellous – I was talking to a colleague about Petersham this morning and saying I really must get myself out there one of these days.

    Posted by Jeanne | 20 March 2007 #
  • hi keiko! it has been a while i dropped by but i’m back on cyberspace! :)

    it’s wonderful to see your lovely post as usual, and to my delight i also noted a mention of your blog in the michelin newsletter… well deserved mention!

    Posted by Lil | 20 March 2007 #
  • Keiko san,

    First of all, Congradulations on the two year aniversary! I am honor to get to know both you and your blog!

    As everybody says, your blog is really amazing. I always enjoy visiting your blog! Your photos have zen touch. It is really clean and makes me calm :-)

    I look forward to seeing many more beautiful posting! Say hello to your lovely husband for me :-)

    Posted by junko | 20 March 2007 #
  • It is always a nice visit to come here and relax into your photography. Thank you!

    Posted by Caroline | 21 March 2007 #
  • What an amazing blog!!!
    So glad I found you….had a great visit!!

    Posted by Gypsy Purple | 21 March 2007 #
  • Your images are breathtaking.

    Posted by Lizelle | 21 March 2007 #
  • what a wonderful coverage, keiko! :) you make me want to visit this magical place in an instant…i can’t tell when i’ll be back to londo next :| arghhh…i’m happy that you had a joyful day :-) yummy!

    Posted by Maya | 21 March 2007 #
  • Keiko, Just wanted to say how lovely it was to meet you again today. Really enjoyed spending the day with you and appreciated your help SO much. Thank you! Come again anytime and bring a box with you so you can take home lots of goodies! Your latest posting is just beautiful as always.

    Posted by alice | 21 March 2007 #
  • Beautiful photos and fascinating post as usual. Hopefully I’ll see you and Skye at Bluepint Cafe on 16th May?

    Posted by J | 22 March 2007 #
  • Dear Keiko,

    Skye phoned me last night to tell me that she had the chance to look at your blog (she’s a bit of a technophobe and almost never looks at these things). She was so impressed with your record of the day. The jewel like colours you have captured and exquisite attention to detail express exactly how she herself saw the day. What many people who see these pictures won’t realise is how quickly you had to work. There was so much hustle and bustle around you and your fellow diners were eagerly tucking into the dishes at the same time as you photographed them. The photographs you see in magazines are generally set up and highly styled, you didn’t have that luxury. A triumph, Keiko. Congratulations.

    Posted by Sarah Canet | 22 March 2007 #
  • hi keiko, what amazing pictures – you probably won’t believe that I live just round the corner from there (and have been for 8 years)... well, you do know that! but i have never actually been there on a weekend – and during the weeks it’s really sleepy and doesn’t offer much more than tea and simple cakes.
    i will go back some weekend, though, probably when pille stays over! thanks for the great write-up, it felt like going on a short trip to paradise over lunch!

    Posted by johanna | 22 March 2007 #
  • Dear Keiko,
    Greg and I have been absolutely blown away by your gorgeous photos! We were both so busy on the day – Greg in particular – that we missed out on a lot of the colour and movement and atmosphere.You have captured it all so beautifully. Thanks for giving all of us who were present such a lovely record of what was truly a fabulous day!
    PS And you are right, Petersham Nurseries is truly a unique and wonderful place. We hope we’ll be invited back again!

    Posted by Lucy | 22 March 2007 #
  • This looks wonderful, Keiko. Such beautiful pictures of a fabulous gathering.

    Posted by veron | 22 March 2007 #
  • Thank you so much for your blog. I’m Lucy’s (Lucinda to me!)mother and was sad I couldn’t come from Cambridge to the occasion. However, your very detailed description and lovely photos made me almost feel I was there! I was glad to have them in the UK, if albeit briefly.

    Posted by Rosemary Rushbrooke | 23 March 2007 #
  • Hi again, I loved this post so much I’ve chosen it for my ‘Delectable Posts’ roundup:


    Posted by Julia | 24 March 2007 #
  • hi Keiko, and greetings from Australia.
    What fantastic photographs! It must have been a wonderful day, and I shall ensure that I visit the nursery when we are next in the UK.
    Kind regards from Lucy’s uncle.

    Posted by richard | 24 March 2007 #
  • Keiko san,


    I was given your blog address from a friend of mine.
    She was raving about your site and it is true.
    Your blog is amazing.
    By reading, I felt as if i was attending this wonderful event.

    Your blog went into my favorite with speed of light.

    Will check your past article when I got more time.

    Posted by Toffee-Apple | 25 March 2007 #
  • Keiko, sounds like a wonderful event. Go the Aussies!!
    As always you seem to capture the whole mood of the event so well. I felt like I was right there.

    Posted by jenjen | 26 March 2007 #
  • Dear Keiko,
    What a wonderful place. Isn’t blogging great?! One often gets to find out about incredible places such as this, with the bonus of a genuine and first hand review.
    Thanks for sharing your day with us : )

    Posted by Ales | 26 March 2007 #
  • Keiko-What a wonderful post. I want to go! Thank you so much for sharing. You are one of my favorite blog reads!

    Posted by Fer | 27 March 2007 #
  • Hi Keiko! Another gorgeous and inspiring post… the clarity of both your photos and your writing never cease to amaze me – I always feel like I’m right there with you!

    Posted by gilly | 27 March 2007 #
  • Looks like such a treat Keiko. Your gorgeous pictures render the ambiance of the event so well!

    Posted by bea at La tartine gourmande | 27 March 2007 #
  • Hi keiko!! what a beautiful post…. ;)
    Great photos, wonderful place and people.. Greg and Lucy are very amazing person!!
    a kiss for you and one for little maya..
    when you move to italy??

    Posted by Gourmet | 28 March 2007 #
  • Keiko ! I’m so glad to see you back : I miss your fabulous pictures !!!
    See you around soon I hope !!

    Posted by Fred | 30 March 2007 #
  • Hey! your text and your pictures are always gorgeous, it’s a plesure to read your blog !!

    Posted by christell | 4 April 2007 #
  • What a beautiful outing! Thanks for showing us. :-)

    Posted by Christina | 4 April 2007 #
  • Beautiful post and what an amazing place to visit. It’s hard not to feel energized — although snow is actually falling here right now … Thanks for reminding me spring IS here.

    Posted by Christina at ramble magazine | 6 April 2007 #
  • Oh Keiko, everything is so beautiful… merci de partager ces précieux moments avec nous ! you have so much talent !!!

    Posted by Camille | 7 April 2007 #
  • What a beautiful post… in so many ways. I felt transported and wished I could be there sipping a bellini and taking in the feel of spring! Thanks for inviting us along!

    Posted by Deborah Dowd | 8 April 2007 #
  • Hello, I found your blog by chance this Easter weekend when I was looking at Petersham cafe’s website. Petersham cafe and its surroundings is most probably one of my most favourite places in the UK. I truly love the look of the place. And when I saw some of your photos from Petersham, they seem to have echoed my sentiments. I love taking photos but I must admit that in my many visits to Petersham I still haven’t captured the place as well as you did. Now that I see your blog, I see you have a true feeling for visual beauty. And your cooking looks delectable too. If your were standing in front of me, you would see me giving you a bow (taking my hat off for you). Thank you.

    Posted by Jolly Thompson | 9 April 2007 #
  • Thank you for introducing me to Petersham. While visiting London last week I made my way to Petersham. It is a really beautiful place and the food was delicious. I plan to make this a regular voyage whenever I am in London. Thank you.

    Posted by Barb | 10 April 2007 #
  • Dear Keiko, it’s so long since I’ve made a comment. But it’s because each time I visit, I’m rendered speechless by the sheer beauty of your blog. Your photos are just so stunning. Now I feel that somehow I have to go to Petersham. G and I will be married in 5 days, but we won’t honeymoon till summer, at which point we may take a trip to Italy, France and England. If so, I will have to make Petersham part of our trip. Thank you, thank you!

    Posted by Julie | 17 April 2007 #
  • Hi everyone, sincere apologies for taking so long to get back to you, thank you so much for all your kind notes.

    Francesco – it’s bellini with rose syrup in it, really lovely :)

    Audrey – it might be too late to give this advice, but I only have the 50mm f/1.8 and I think it’s as good as the others. It looks/feels tacky as you know, maybe I’ll go for the f1.4 if it ever breaks, but I think you’d really really need the extra half stop to justify the very expensive and heavy f/1.2 :) I love Lille, it’s a beautiful town indeed :)

    Posted by keiko | 22 January 2008 #

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