After a long winter period, the Royal Mail Hotel kitchen garden is gearing up for a productive season. Spring is here bringing warmer soils and longer days, helping to launch the garden into full swing.
Firstly, seeds and plants must be sowed. The kitchen garden team are working hard at planting all of the season’s fruit and vegetables. Currently, carrots, beetroots and radishes are being sown every two weeks, while lettuce, parsley and basil are also following suit.
It wouldn’t be spring without a vast and varied range of tomato plants. Michelle, the kitchen garden specialist, loves to push the envelope come tomato season and this year will be cultivating a total of 50 varieties and 300 plants.
Two varieties are leaving the garden and kitchen team with baited breath. They are called the Berkeley Tie-Dye Green and the Lucille Ball.
The Berkeley Tie-Dye has a kaleidoscopic exterior of green, red and yellow stripes. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Each colour has a different flavour – spicy, sweet and tart. One bite starts with a hint of sweetness, working towards tartness, with a savoury, spicy taste left in your mouth at the end.
Equally impressive, the Lucille Ball is another tomato worth getting excited about. This variety was carefully developed by a tomato grower from the Mornington Peninsula, who asked Michelle to trial it in the Royal Mail Hotel kitchen garden.
The plant is a combination of the Jaune Flamme and Costoluto Genovese varieties. The Jaune Flamme is a small, red tomato with a beautiful flavour, while the Costoluto Genovese is a large ribbed variety.
Stay tuned to see how Executive Chef Robin Wickens uses all 50 tomato varieties in Wickens and Parker Street Project this spring and summer.
Lovage is beginning to sprout in the kitchen garden. This underutilised herb is not typically found outside of Europe and its cuisine. The herb produces a flavour similar to celery or parsley, but is stronger and more distinct. Not only does it taste delicious, lovage is said to improve the health and flavour of plants growing in the same area.
Another underrated herb currently growing in the garden is sorrel. The herb vanished from kitchens more than 100 years ago, but is slowly reclaiming its status. The tart and lemony flavour of the young leaves goes well in salads and also complements eggs and poultry.
Spring is an exciting time for the garden and kitchen teams at the Royal Mail Hotel. Join the kitchen garden tour everyday at 10am to see where your food comes from, and then tuck in for lunch or dinner at either restaurant – Wickens or Parker Street Project – it’s a full food immersion!