Perched on the seating area of a water feature in Wynyard’s walled garden, Allison Antonopoulos is painting a very tasty vision for visitors to the estate’s new café, farm shop and deli.
“You can just picture it, sitting out here with the olive trees and a glass of prosecco!” says Allison, managing director of the four-star Wynyard Hall hotel and estate, as she gestures to the area of the visitor centre which will house the café and al fresco dining area.
Indeed, we can. And what a view it will be, over the estate’s new landmark gardens, which when complete will be home to Britain’s largest rose garden, a venture sown by Allison’s father, entrepreneur Sir John Hall, Wynyard Hall’s owner.
The garden is due to open alongside the visitor centre, which will house the café and farm shop, on August 4.
The farm shop and cafe is very much Allison’s vision, who put together the designs after visiting many similar garden projects. It will rival the likes of Daylesford’s classy farm shop/café offerings.
“Daylesford is my absolute favourite and Weetons and Harlow Carr in Harrogate were my inspiration.
“I wanted to create a light and airy space using fresh and relaxing colours by Farrow and Ball (the soft tones of Mizzle – a warm grey/green) with natural stone floors which complement the exterior oak building.
“The shop will be filled with wonderful products, and will include a gorgeous Italian range, and foods from local suppliers to include sausages, cheeses, puddings and stunning homeware, fresh plants, flowers and interesting books.
“Everything will be of the highest quality in terms of presentation and taste. Every single item that goes on the shelf has to be sampled.”
Allison laughs when she says this has involved much taste testing for her and new retail manager, Jayne Gray, who adds: “I go home thinking about sausages and wake up thinking about jam!”
Already the visitor centre has a wonderfully warm and inviting rustic feel that will tempt visitors to linger a while, all part of the offering of this destination attraction, which will link with entertainment in the gardens, including plans for open-air theatre and live music.
The décor includes chunky farmhouse-style tables, large dressers and bookcases, large basketware and lots of pieces chosen from architectural salvage.
Allison says: “The visitor centre is the entrance to the gardens. You will arrive and come through a retail area and we have got cafe seating for about 90 inside and 90 outside, and you can purchase the roses you see here.
“The first table in the farm shop will be seasonal and will have produce like gorgeous strawberries, asparagus and strawberry jam and prosecco. The next table is an Italian section. We have been meeting some amazing Italian importers.”
The café, which will be overseen by Wynyard’s executive head chef Mehdi Amiri, will offer light dishes such as home-made sandwiches, salads, paninis and desserts and cakes, freshly prepared.
Mehdi is a chef who is inspired by fresh flavours, Mediterranean influences and seasonality of ingredients.
He has given us an inspirational preview of the style of dishes that will be on offer with these seasonal recipes.
It will be a food destination of its own with chefs creating menus for daytime and special events, ahead of the planned new cookery school and edible garden in the next phase of development.
Allison adds: “We want to get across this is just the beginning. It will be a whole four-year plan.”
Along with the sights and scents emanating from the rose garden, a feast for all the senses too.
Hay smoked organic feta with compressed watermelon and pickled vegetables
100g organic feta
2 x baby carrots (top also)
50g x fresh mint
1/2 x pomegranate
Place hay in a small deep tray then place the organic feta in perforated tray sitting over the hay.
Burn the hay and then cling film for 8 minutes.
After smoking process has been completed chill for up to 2 hours.
Place baby carrots in a small pan, add water, sherry vinegar, star anise and warm gently. Once the carrots are cooked but still retain a firm texture, drain and refrigerate.
Peel and dice watermelon, pick mint and deseed pomegranate.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, crumble smoked feta and serve.
Miso marinated tuna and grilled king prawn salad and burnt avocado
100g tuna fresh
3 x king prawns
3 x rainbow radishes
50g bean shoots
50g red Miso paste
1 x red chilli
20g fresh ginger
1 x avocado
1 x lime leaf
40g demerara sugar
50g fresh coriander
After sugar has dissolved drain liquor through a fine sieve and cool.
Portion tuna and place in marinade for 24 hours.
Roast peeled avocado in a dry pan until golden brown. Season and blend to a smooth consistency whilst adding the fresh coriander and a touch of lemon juice.
Make a salad of bean shoots, fresh avocado and radishes. Place the salad on top of the burnt avocado puree. Grill prawns and tuna then sit on top of the salad. Use the cooking juices as dressing for the salad.
250g egg yolk
Whisk together over bain marie 121c
500g fresh blackberry puree
750ml semi whipped cream
1 x pipette of blackberry essence
Fold both mixtures together and pour into desired moulds then freeze for 24 hours.
150g melted butter
300g icing sugar
250ml orange juice
100ml blackberry puree
300g sieved plain flour
Mix all ingredients together and spread thinly over silicone mat. Bake at 120c for 30 minutes.
Remove parfait from moulds, serve with toasted granola, fresh berries and garnish with blackberry biscuits.