A couple of days ago I was lucky enough to get invited to attend Waitrose Summer Garden Party at their incredible Leckford Estate which is by far one of the most stunning places I visited in the UK. The vast estate covers 4,000 acre estate near Stockbridge, Hampshire. The estate was purchased in 1929 by John Spedan Lewis, founder of the John Lewis Partnership, and Waitrose have been farming it now for nearly 90 years.
Leckford Estate grows a wide range of delicious produce for Waitrose and the farm shop including mushrooms, apples, pears, cider, apple juice and flour. Being such a foodie it was so interesting to see where some of the products I buy everyday come from.
We started our tour in the blooming nursery home to the National Collections of: Buddlejas, Clematis viticella, and the Gilchrist Collection of Penstemons. As naturalist, John Spedan Lewis studied the flora and fauna intensely whilst living at the Estate. The most popular butterfly, attracting plant and shrub is the Buddleja which I completely fell in love with although I have to admit it was really hard to pick a favorite as we were surrounded by some many gorgeous flowers!
We continued our walk through lusciously green fields until we arrived at the Water Garden which was definitely the most breath taking garden I ever had the honour to walk into.
This vast water Gardens covers around seven acres and was originally created by the Beddington family during the early 1900’s. The water gardens became part of the estate in 1942 and since then the gardens have been nurtured and developed to become the finest, famous water gardens. What impressed me the most was the gorgeous array of different plants, trees and colourful all surrounded by the most peaceful of the silence (apart from us loud bloggers screaming in delight).
We carried on our walk into what I can only describe as one the most idyllic, secluded, picturesque spot where 2 large tipi were standing in front of us. Under the tents the most gorgeous dining table was awaiting for us packed with the most stunning flowers, herbs and pots. It was literally the dreamiest lunchtime setting!
There were plenty of alcoholic and no alcoholic drinks on offer, I immediately went for the apple juice which is produced on the estate and it was no jokes the best apple juice I have ever tasted! As a little canape we had some mushroom risotto arancini which were creamy and moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside.
The starter was a courgette, spelt and cumin fritter, parsley and cashew salad which was just so delicious! I literally could have eaten 3 or 4 of them as they were so packed with flavours and texture 🙂
For main we had roasted cauliflower, savoury maple granola, picked radish and lettuce puree which of course I devoured it in less than 5 seconds as it was tasty! I am a huge fan of roasted cauliflower and that for me was just the perfect dish bursting with gorgeous seasonal flavours!
Last but not least, dessert! Coconut pannacotta with fennel, sour cherries, clementine and puffed quinoa. This was pretty special for me as I haven’t had pannacotta since transitioning to a plantabsed diet 4 years ago! It was so creamy and fluffy and the fennel and cherries surprisingly went so well together. There were plenty of different vegan British wines to accompany every dish buy I just stuck with my apple juice all the way through as it was so delicious!
This very thought through menu for me was an incredible example of how tasty, delicious and creative vegan food can be, is definitely not only about tofu! If you have been following me for a while you know how passionate I am about sharing my love for plantbased food so it was so great to see Waitrose embracing the love for plants creating a stunning menu which everybody (veggie and meat eaters) loved and enjoyed.
The day couldn’t get any better until we walked to the other side of the lake to make our own bouquet with exquisite British flowers. I am huge pink fan so I literally picked every pink flower I had in sight! An expert florist helped us to put the bouquet together making the best present I could have taken home with me.
Sadly it was time to go home! The time seriously flew by and I was so sad to leave this gorgeous Jane Austin, picture perfect, corner of the world to head back to London. It was definitely one of the best experience of my life and I so grateful to Waitrose to have made me appreciate even more how gorgeous and stunning our planet is.