Friday, July 22, 2011

Chatsworth, Farmer's Markets and Gooseberry Elderflower Syllabub

I have wanted to visit Chatsworth ever since I saw this photo in an Architectural Digest in the 1985. 

Chatsworth by Derry Moore (with a bit of photoshop to get rid of the magazine fold)

 In it, my favorite architectural photographer, Derry Moore (a blue blood himself since he’s the 12th Earl of Drogheda and a genius behind the lens), shot the house from just beyond the bridge … glowing golden against the greens and blues of the Derbyshire countryside.  This is how I will always think of it.  I copied the image from the old magazine to show you–– like a dream, isn’t it?  I had so wanted to take my own shot of the house and was terribly disappointed when I arrived to find it cocooned in white plastic for renovations (they were cleaning the stone to restore it to its golden glory).  Ah well –– I will always think of it in that Derry Moore shot and that’s not such a bad thing.  Check out his book In House for a treat.

Chatsworth was built by a favorite of mine, the brilliant and strong-willed Bess of Hardwick  (cut from the same cloth as her friend Elizabeth the First), with a garden installed a little later by England’s master garden designer, Capability Brown . It is one of the great houses of England and so much more.

… bedrooms like this

… halls like these

 … libraries like this

 … a statue gallery like this

…full of glorious marble beasts like my lion friends below

that you can walk through and gaze wonderstruck at –– following in the footsteps of Keira Knightley (Chatsworth was Pemberly in her Pride and Prejudice).  It is unfathomably grand, there’s no denying. But there is more.

I was just as thrilled with sights like these…

The beautiful draft horse even has a view!

For you see Chatsworth also has a really laudable farm.  They sell their own produce, meats and even beer as well as promoting local products from neighboring farms.  They even give credit to their suppliers on their website –– celebrity farmers!  Great houses were always supported by their lands, now the farmers are getting due credit for their labors and they are as much a part of Chatsworth as the great house and its riches.

I know when I got to know the farmers at my own Union Square farmer’s market in NYC there was a real sea change in my attitude about food.  The change had begun when I had my own garden and raised fruits and vegetables.  I got to know how the land worked and it gave me fresh eyes on the ways of the natural world … I came to understand the rhythms of the seasons and most certainly what went into making things grow.  Knowing farmers takes it to another level.  At Chatsworth you watch the farmers at work, you see the animals, you watch the sheep grazing contentedly on the rolling lawns.  It changes the way you feel about food to look it in the eye, and I think that was the idea from the start.  You also know there is no misery meat or factory farming.  That is as it should be.

Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire shot by Derry Moore, 1985

One of the things that has always endeared me to Chatsworth is that Deborah, now Dowager Dutchess of Devonshire, started thinking about local, sustainable farming and sharing the bounty of the estate 40 years ago.  That’s a big reason why I wanted to visit here.

1699 view of Chatsworth

She began selling the products of her 35,000-acre estate in the 1970s (it was 83,000 acres before the family had to sell off chunks for death duties in 1950).  It is hard to conceive how big this place is, honestly (roughly twice the size of Manhattan if that helps you).

The beautiful farm and store employs hundreds of locals, supports English agriculture and is magnificent.  In a way, the Dowager Dutchess is just as far-sighted as Bess of Harwicke who built the house in the first place.

Why buy from a farmer's market?  Aside from freshness, by buying directly from farmers, you give them the opportunity to actually make a little money.  Many of us don’t realize that a farmer selling to a middleman gets less than half of the value of his crops, meat or dairy.  So often they make little or nothing on the deal.  For some, it cost more to grow the products than they get for them.  At farmer’s markets it all goes to the farmer and not to agribusiness or giant food chains.  You can actually meet the people who grew the products and get to know their methods and even visit their farms to see what they do (if you can you should… it is a real treat).  Farmer's Markets should be supported by all of us in  the food community.

Now, what to make with the summer’s bounty from New York's Union Square Farmer’s Market that would pay homage to my visit to Chatsworth?  Well I fell head over heels with a dessert I had in England.  It was a gooseberry elderflower syllabub and it was a revelation.   I could even imagine eating it with the Duchess in the Chatsworth dining room

…sitting at this place at the table

 I’ve told you about syllabub before and made the early version of it in its drink form I wrote about HERE  that was spectacular.  Most syllabubs these days are pudding-like and descend from the 18th century ‘solid’ or ‘everlasting’ syllabub that was in turn the precursor to the English trifle.  What’s the thing that stays the same?  The cream has wine in it –– just less than in the more liquid version, although it is sort of like having an after dinner drink and dessert all in one… not a bad thing in my book.  I think what I loved about it was that the cream was sweet and the berry layer wasn’t, so you could make your own ratio of tart to sweet with each spoon… this is my idea of nirvana.   I believe the waitress in Oxford misconstrued my groans of pleasure as gastrointestinal distress at first… I do hope I didn’t embarrass myself completely.  This is a brilliant dessert and a great introduction to the gooseberry if you've never tried it.

Gooseberry and Elderflower Syllabub, serves 4 small or 2 large

1 c gooseberries (save some for garnish)
2 T sugar (I like the tart berry with the sweet cream idea, if you want it all sweet make it 4 T sugar in the berries)
1 T gooseberry jam (from the farmer's market, of course!)
1 T St Germain, elderflower liqueur

1 cup heavy cream
1/3 c sweet white wine (I got a small Moscato)
1 T St Germain elderflower liqueur
¼ cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
½ t vanilla
pinch of nutmeg

Put the gooseberries in a pan with the sugar.  Cook slowly until berries soften… just a few minutes.

Add the jam and liqueur to the berries and put the mixture into the blender.  Strain if you want a more elegant sauce… otherwise it has small seeds.   Allow the sauce to cool.

Whip the cream fairly stiffly with the sugar, lemon zest and vanilla then add the wine.  This has a good deal of liquor in it… although it is milder an hour or so later… if you have any alcohol issues… make it with elderflower syrup and skip the sugar… whip the cream less

Layer the cream and fruit in glasses… ending with the cream


Please go visit my friend Laura Kelly at her blog, Silk Road Gourmet
She's hosting a cooking challenge.  You get to make your own version of 
ancient recipes... it's a great idea.

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La Table De Nana said...

So pretty! Look at the size of the gardens.. Imagine.. I love the market they have there..and the ones you go to..
Again..the a lesson in the best University:)

Diane said...

Love the pictures and the info on Chatsworth. I really took a fancy to the pigs :-)
That Syllabub looks superb and very mouth watering. Diane

tasteofbeirut said...

Loved this post and how you build up the excitement with the connection between this English castle and the farmer's market. Very interesting and how wise of this Châtelaine (sorry I could not think of the english word for it) to have set up this farm and outlet. I also adore that dessert and the creamy and tanginess and multiple layers. A pure treat.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

Such a wonderful post to read and love the detailed explanation of the ingrediants. Just beautiful creation as well.

Miss Merry said...

So amazing - thank you for taking me on a journey and sharing the history! And the farm store is just amazing. The gooseberry parfait looks lucious!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I'm so sorry Chatsworth was undergoing renovations when you visited! I can only imagine what a lovely photo you would have gotten.

I loved reading all about it. I never knew it was so immense!

What a glorious dessert that I, too, can imagine being eaten at that grand table.

Mary Bergfeld said...

What a wonderful post. I really enjoyed taking this journey with you. You have become my in-house blogging historian. I love to visit here. I always learn something and there is always a visual treat. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a treat to visit a Farmer's Market like this-even as one of your avid readers! The produce there looks tantalisingly good and there's nothing like buying it straight from the farmer! :D

Tanantha said...

Wow thanks for a beautiful history pictures! Your gooseberry syllabub looks so delicious! I never taste milk from a grass-fed operation. Now i'm curious to try!

Faith said...

Your photos of Chatsworth are truly magnificent...that library especially is breathtaking! (And I love how even the horse has a fantastic view!) The Syllabub is so elegant...I will be on the lookout for gooseberries now!

indieperfumes said...

Deana, it's quite a dream and you bring so much down to earth beauty to us.

Lazaro Cooks said...

Anytime I see or hear Chatsworth, I immediately think of Chatsworth, CA, the porn capital of the world. I know, I am sick.

Bet nobody else would write that but Laz. Yikes!

Your photos of the other Chatsworth are much posher and more engaging. Grandiose on a really opulent scale.

The dessert looks flawless. The presentation, the photo, everything. However, I am a huge elderflower guy, love them. So, your use of the St. Germain, makes me happy. Pass it to me please.


Barbara said...

I've not been to Chatsworth but I own several wonderful books about it AND I've read reams about the Mitford sisters. What an extraordinary family. It was fun to see Chatsworth through your eyes.

We don't have farmers markets as extensive as those in NYC, nor the contacts available to you, but I love shopping at Union Square when I'm in town. In the summer in Florida, they pretty much shut down farmer's markets in our town, while yours are in their prime. Frustrating as you have so much more available in large cosmopolitan cities than the rest of us, but I so enjoy reading about everything.

Your syllabub looks delightful and with some substitutions, we can all make it. I've made a Elderflower and Prosecco Gelée so I look forward to one more way to make use of my lovely St Germain Elderflower liqueur. Gooseberries are out, unfortunately. :) Blueberries will have to do.

Unknown said...

Cute sleeping piggies, stately homes, and rich fatty cream desserts. You know the way to my heart :D
Wishing you a wonderful weekend my daaaahling!
*kisses* HH

Magic of Spice said...

What an amazing place to have a farmers' market...and your dessert is gorgeous! I have some gooseberries I picked up at the farmers' market recently but they were not the red, sounds like they may have a different flavor :)
Hopw you have a great weeken

Fresh Local and Best said...

This reminds me, it has been way too long since I have visited Union Square market! I've been preoccupied caring for the little tyke. I love Milk Thistle creams and milk, it is very much so worth the extra expense. This looks like quite a delightful dessert.

Anonymous said...

We have to put Chatsworth on our list to visit, how gorgeous! Loved the photos and reading about it, and what a beautiful treat you made! Sound just wonderful with gooseberries and elderflower liqueur!

Marisa said...

I learned so much from this post. Chatsworth is such a beautiful house--wth an equally beautiful farm. I'd like to have a view like that horse!

You made such a delicious looking dessert. Now that I know about it, I've got to visit the Union Square Farmers' Market one of these days...

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Fantastic! Great insights, and I love the modern farm shop! It's funny how so many people see the farmer's market as a "new development" when in fact, it was very much a way of life until industrialization took over.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

OK, first of all, that first PHOTOGRAPH of the house by that fabulous photographer you mentioned looks like a FINE and vintage OIL PAINTING! That IS genius, for taking a photograph that not only captures the IMAGE but a MAGIC with color and light is nothing short of pure genius. THEN.....the journey through the farmers' market. How I wish we had year-round access to farmers' markets, and our local markets here in the cities are OK...not stellar. Some people are literally growing these things in their city backyards and I am not sure about the quality, so I skip it. When I was in France, that was a different story...but when in Europe, one is awakened to a totally different philosophy and approach to growing. Dearest, it is so frightening to think of the many dairy or meat products I have consumed that have been raised on this horrible diet of grains. Not until I saw a documentary on how cattle are fed did I even see the horror in it for the animals, let alone for the consumer's pocketbook and possibly health!

I JUST KNOW that this magnificent dessert you show us here has a taste BEYOND anything I have ever tasted. Never have I had a dairy product from animals fed on grass and fruits that truly come from a plot of earth so lovingly tended.

THANK YOU FOR THIS MAGNIFICENT POST and for your lovely visit and words...yes bring on the machetes to wack away not only at the things that we create to keep us from really living, but to clear away the wrong thinking about how we treat our land, animals and food supply!


Marjie said...

That dessert looks beautiful. I'll bet it would be great with blueberries, too. Thanks for the inspiration!

Jessica said...

This is such a classy and elegant dessert! The colors and swirls are just gorgeous, and wonderful ingredients as well. Elderflower liquor and gooseberry sound like a divine combination! And can I just say that I am loving all your photos, as usual. So much history and the farm shop looks like so much fun!!

El said...

This post is like heaven. I can't get over the house. How spectacular are those rooms? (What I wouldn't give to have the word "dry wall" removed from the lexicon of the home builder!) Your dessert is exquisite. I agree, there is nothing like fresh local dairy cream.

Tasty Trix said...

What an AMAZING post. SO glad you pointed out the detrimental effects of grain fed cows. I hate when I see meat touted as "grass fed and grain finished" like it's a good thing. And not enough people know about it. This is a dish worthy of Chatsworth (and Pemberly). Though I will take the amazing Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth Bennet over that wretched Keira Knightly's version ... Anyway, now I am thinking that the life of a dowager duchess is really not so bad, eh?

Priscilla - She's Cookin' said...

Your posts always take me on a beautiful journey through time, Deanna. Thank you for the stunning tour of Chatsworth as well as the origins of the syllabub and the ingredients that went into your most elegant dessert. Next time we travel to upstate NY, I'll have to seek out Milk Thistle Farms (I've been to Ghent, my husband's family burial plot is there). I grew up on a farm where we raised most of our food and share your passion for the humane treatment of animals and knowing your source. Thanks again for this amazing post/entry to the Farmers Market challenge.

Laura@SilkRoadGourmet said...

Hi Deana:

I confess to being a "Lost in Austen" sort of girl, but these grand old homes and palaces are really magnificent, aren't they?

Lovely post about the house and its history as well as how the current Dutchess has tried to create an estate that is sustainable in the 21st Century and helps the surrounding community.

The syllabub looks devine - I had a moment of synesthesia when reading the recipe - it tastes wonderful as well (I know).

Once again - a lovely post!


David said...

Kevin and I are planning a transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary, then yet another tour of the English countryside. We will check out Chatsworth. Sounds wonderful. Thanks for another lovely post!

Anonymous said...

I'll certainly go and visit Chatsworth if I get the chance - and I'll make sure I do. Elderflower, gooseberries and syllabub are as English as it goes. Your version is absolutely lovely, especially with the fantastic cream you found. The most common gooseberries in England are of the pale, almost white variety, but your white and pink is even prettier.

Lori Lynn said...

Oh there are so many things to love about this post...starting with those pigs and that dining table. Your attention to detail is much appreciated. Really enjoyed reading your post.

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ said...

it's so wonderful when such an opulent place can inspire a meal, a moment, a tryst, etc... I've not been to London yet, (which still surprises me, even) but your recount helped understand what I'd be in for when I DO make it! :)

Daily Spud said...

Oh my, Chatsworth looks glorious, what an inspirational place to visit. As for the syllabub, I'd have to say that the combination of gooseberry and elderflower is also quite glorious. My parents used to grow gooseberries when I was growing up, so I'm very familiar with how they taste and am always excited if I find any during their short season here.

Emily said...

It's official, you make the prettiest syllabub and I love, love those pink plates. Your post has made me homesick, especially as Chatsworth is just around the corner from where I grew up and I haven't been there in a long time. Capability Brown was simply genius and those gardens are some of my favourites.

Hester Casey @ Alchemy in the Kitchen said...

I paid a visit to Chatsworth recently and was blown away by it. What an incredible place - can you imagine the parties they had around that table! Fabulous syllabub - your photos are beautiful.

SEO Company said...

Ohhh! What a gorgeous ring ...
They will never old to learn and succeed and do everything you want to do ...
Now where's that box of chocolates!

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Food to Fitness said...

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