Olwynne Goodrich

A Country Table

by Olwynne Goodrich The Food 6 Sep 16


At one of this summer’s Thyme’s Table dinners, I sit beside Ella Tarn, food stylist & writer for Delicious Magazine, and as we share the vegetables, abundant in bowls so large you simply had to help your neighbour pile their plate, she exclaims ‘it feels like a country house dinner party!’ It does, because this is not a restaurant experience (although open to anyone to book), she later describes it as ‘an evening all about friendships, old & new, great conversation & extraordinary food.’

The candle-lit Tithe Barn is full of voices, soft music discernible only during the momentary hush of diners enjoying the first mouthfuls of each course. Everyone has relaxed into a perfect summer's evening.  Popping into the kitchen, the deep blue glow of dusk creating a dreamy backdrop to their calm industrious work, I’m intent on making a nuisance of myself by asking questions about every course. The menus have been so carefully planned, a summer of guest chefs & Thyme chefs alike seeking inspiration in our kitchen gardens to share. And they are inspired … redefining fine dining with wit & creativity, a voice in ethical sustainable food without any of the preaching. The food served is clearly part of a conversation between our gardeners, the chefs and the people sat around the table, redolent with the season and able to speak for itself. This evening is one of our ‘For the Love of the Land’ dinners and the menu is just that:

To nibble
Kitchen garden padron peppers
To start
Cornish crab, fragrant herbs, coconut
For the main
Rabbit, myrtle, smoke
To cleanse
Green walnut, ice
For the pudding
Peach, Attar of Roses, sesame
Winslade, homemade sourdough, damson

It sounds so simple, three key ingredients on each plate, but when we discuss the starter the herbs are not simply ‘fragrant herbs’, they have used five basils from the garden, Genovese as a nest for the crab, then Thai, Greek, purple & cinnamon basils to bring floral notes to an Asian dish, the basil & crab perfect with a delicate coconut milk dressing. Carefully chosen flavours grown to articulate the worth of slow food, influences from around the globe, but always referencing the gentle flavours of the refined country landscape of the estate. At the end of the evening the chefs sit enjoying a glass of wine with guests, more talk of the menu and the garden ensues, reassuring diners that it is absolutely reproducible at home (we do have a cookery school after all - and its true, I’ve tried), so we decided to share some of the recipes from this dinner with our ‘Thoughts’ readers. The starter and dessert are deliciously simple, as perfect in September as they were in August, and if you would really like to attempt the rabbit just get in touch and we’ll send you the recipe & some detailed advice too.

 The autumn & winter Thyme's Table dinners are now on the website - book a truly exceptional dining experience

Images courtesy of Philip Tull Photography