Tuesday, 28 June 2011

tangerine dream café, chelsea physic garden

o and i love gardens. i had been counting on a sunny day to take him to the chelsea physic garden. sunday twenty sixth june saw the mercury at a real high in london and turned out to be the perfect day to go. founded in the sixteen hundred's the chelsea physic garden was an apothecaries garden and was meant to train apprentices in identifying plants and continued to be just that until the early eighties when it was opened to the public. i first heard of it from one of my yoga teachers in relation to the garden of world medicine whilst chatting about natural medicine. 

flowers at chelsea physic garden
bottle brushes at chelsea physic garden
poppies at chelsea physic garden
so on sunday, the observer in tow o and i made our way down to the garden. the garden is tucked away in a street very close to oscar wilde's home and was a buzz with conversation and people. sunny warm days in london always equal to everyone making a dash for the nearest garden or park to sunbathe. what i loved about the garden was the little hidden spots where the shade was so dense that one could forget the heat. after a couple of hours of roaming around the garden and looking at the plants and herbs and flowers o and i were peckish. 

i had been looking at some of the food that people were eating in a tent from the tangerine dream cafe. the weather called for a salad so we chose a mixed salad plate and a cake to share. the salads were a mix of beans, peas, leaves and fruit. i loved the watermelon, feta and mint salad. cubes of sweet watermelon flesh contrasted with cubes of sharp salty feta. radicchio and chicory leaves with an equally sharp peppery arugula softened by a light fruity olive oil and lastly a minted broad bean and pea salad. if there is one thing i love about summer it is salad. fresh and raw fruits and vegetables dressed in a good plain olive oil. not to mention the bright and sprightly colours. the summer food palette is  all about the ruddy pinks and reds and bright greens cut through with creamy white cheeses.

orange and polenta cake
choosing dessert turned out to be tricky. there were lavender scones, a fig thyme and almond tart, a tunisian citrus almond cake and large meringues with cream and drizzles of berry syrup and cut fruit. the orange and polenta came recommended though. for all its simplicity it is perhaps the best orange and polenta cake i have had in london. the polenta had a subdued crunch as the cake was so very moist and syrupy. a creme fraiche the colour of clotted cream cut through the syrupy sweetness of the cake. for the first time ever i asked o whether it would be okay if i ate the whole cake and got him another one. lucky for me he had only a bite and left the lion's share to me.

i wish i could say that i'll be back at the tangerine dream cafe but unfortunately it seems a bit steep to pay an eight pound entry just to eat. maybe someday i'll be a friend of the garden and then i can come and eat all the cake and scones i want. 

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