Tea time in the garden


I once looked at the $10 price tag on a pot of fresh mint tea in a fancy restaurant and wondered who on earth would pay that, until after dinner my partner did just that.

Which reinforces both the importance of immersing your guests in a fabulous experience where cost is somewhat secondary and also how ridiculously simple it is to grow your own.


Camomile (healing & calming), peppermint (anti-inflamatory, and lemon verbena (for colic, flatulence & candida) are all flourishing at the moment. Borage makes a good digestive drink, elderflower is a pleasant and pretty tea (anti-viral) and even better with a little lemon and honey.

The more I look around the garden the more I want to steep things rather than just cook them. The only thing rivaling my tea fetish at the moment is my tempura obsession. Coming from a country that batters and deep fries oysters and (real) scallops in takeaway stores perhaps it’s in my DNA. or maybe its just that anything battered and deep fried tastes great.

The ultimate tempura batter is simply white wine whisked with flour to a pouring consistency. Ensure the oil is good and hot and dip anything thin, young and greenish (and not a dinner guest). We’re using vine leaves at the moment and the aforementioned elderflowers.

If you’re worried about the effect of eating fried food simply follow up with a nice cup of tea.

Monday’s Garden

Monday is menu day, the day when we plan what will be on the weekends menu. This is never final as every trip to the garden reveals another opportunity and the days menu is not printed until just before service.

J chokes

Sean and I hold our planning meeting in the garden. So decisions are made by the three of us.

We had a vague idea before hitting the outdoor office that we would combine confit garlic and poached egg in a dressing for my new favourite thing – Carlo Colaiacomo’s Wagyu prosciutto.

But horseradish pushes the garlic sideways this week, along with the addition of French radish discovered in a corner when the last tomatoes came out.

The rocket is growing like groundcover (now that, is a micro-herb) so we’ll add to the ever favoured sorrel and dress the lot with limes which are still mid-season.

The red onions are way off but we decide to use the tips this week and see how they go in the salad.

Jerusalem artichokes seem to be a bottomless pit so they will go with the slow cooked lamb this week alongside a salad of pink grapefruit and pomegranate.

The artichokes can be oven roasted just like potato or make a decadent mash as follows.

Just another day at the office.

Jerusalem Artichoke Mash

Thouroughly wash as many as you wish to cook.

Roughly chop them and then saute in a heavy bottomed pan with a good amount of butter, approx 100grams per kilo.

Add enough cream to almost cover and cook slowly until very mushy. season with good salt and white pepper. Puree in a processor or drum sieve.

Serve with any meat, fish or add stock to use as a soup.