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Hey pesto! Catering with foraged ingredients

At Escot we are proud of our catering skills, which have given pleasure to guests and delegates at many wedding receptions, parties, conferences, seminars and family days over the years. Lady Kennaway is a qualified caterer, always happy to don her apron to create delicious dishes.

Working alongside Lucy is a long standing member of our team, Lynsey Fearn. Lynsey is a fantastic baker, her sweet treats in particular are a favourite with conference delegates.

During lockdown, Lynsey has been keeping herself busy trying out new ways of using foraged ingredients, of which there are plenty on Escot Estate, in the garden and the surrounding countryside of East Devon. She’s been using lilac, wild garlic, lavender (with a bit of a cheat) and next up will be elderflower.

Lynsey says “Lilac not only looks and smells wonderful in your garden, but I have recently learned that it also tastes wonderful! The flowers are completely edible and can be used in salads, as decorations for sweet things or to make cordials and syrups.

I decided to give the syrup a go and it has been a huge success used with prosecco, in a gin & tonic, to flavour icing or just to drizzle over pancakes. It has a delicate floral flavour. Making this prompted me to explore other flavours available on our doorstep and from the garden. It was the inspiration for a lavender shortbread although I have to confess this was made with last year’s dried flowers. Using fresh flowers would give more vibrant purple flecks so I’ll give that a go soon. But either way the shortbread made for a delicious twist on afternoon tea and biscuits.

Another foraged delight is wild garlic – it certainly makes a daily walk more satisfying to return with a large bunch! I turned it into a deliciously delicate wild garlic pesto – it has a much more subtle taste than your usual garlic.

Hey pesto (!) another triumph with many uses – stirred into freshly cooked pasta or gnocchi, even as a toast topper with mushrooms or mozzarella and tomato, anything goes!

Elderflower cordial is next on the list, Mish Kennaway is the expert on this – he produces a wonderful batch every year which we’re all looking forward to.”

Lynsey’s experimentation will lead to some great new options on our catering menu when we’re able to open Escot House as a venue once again.


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