Nestled in our email inbox, a press release so flowery it seems to emit an aroma of homemade potpourri. News that Novikov has acquired a kitchen garden in Suffolk may not seem like (ahem) fertile ground for comedy but the wording of this particular epistle provoked an archly raised eyebrow.
In a ‘bucolic paradise’ near Lavenham, Brent Eleigh Hall, is a ‘glorious’ Grade I listed country house. But, in its grounds – the press release breathlessly tells us – ‘a miracle is now taking place’.
Two acres of Victorian walled kitchen garden is being brought back to life by none other than that bastion of country simplicity and fresh air Novikov Restaurant & Bar (this would be the same restaurant group that offers a private jet takeaway service).
To be fair to them the Russian owned group is attempting to go green, collaborating with Brent Eleigh Hall’s new owners and plan to restore the kitchen garden in order to stock its Mayfair venue with fruit, vegetables and herbs.
To this end Novikov has appointed as head gardener, the appropriately named Merriel Gardiner, a ‘green-fingered maestro’ who has previously ‘woven her magic’ in the Lost Gardens of Heligan (which sounds like something straight out of Lord of the Rings but is actually in Cornwall). From there things take on a slightly more Famous Five and the Mystery Moor-vibe with Merriel being assisted by Cubby the one-eyed cat.
Brace yourselves for the astounding information that there are already artichokes, asparagus, apples, strawberries, raspberries, pears and beans – not to mention vines and a peach house. And allow your mind to boggle at the news that Marco Torri, head chef at Novikov’s Italian Restaurant, has recently taken receipt of the first ‘bounty’ – ‘fresh and zingy leaks, still encrusted with soil’. Still encrusted with soil?! Just imagine that, dear reader!