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There’s only one Parma Ham…
For those of you who don’t know, Petersham Nurseries is a gorgeously sylvan nursery and restaurant that sits on the banks of the Thames, just a short stroll down the towpath from Richmond. The family behind the enterprise have recently opened an outpost in Covent Garden featuring their exclusive brand of shabby chic and it was here that we were invited for a glamorous press event for Parma Ham. We were to experience a special menu created by Damian Clisby, Restaurants Director at Petersham Nurseries, showcasing Parma Ham in some traditional but also some deliciously unexpected ways.
Parma Ham is a specialist world-class product accredited with a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and can only be made in a specific area in the southern province of Parma. You know it’s the real thing if it features the ‘golden crown’ Prosciutto di Parma stamp. The 100% natural ingredients are ‘ltalian pork legs, sea salt, air and time’ with additives such as nitrates and nitrites being strictly forbidden by the Parma Ham specifications. Aged from between 12 months up to 3 years, I was excited to see what chef Mark Reid, Senior Sous Chef of Petersham Nurseries was going to dish up.
While swanning around the shop and showroom with a glass of prosecco, trays of canapes joyously appeared served by posh young floppy-haired things. There were plates of thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma that we feasted greedily upon, hot and crisp Prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella croquettes with the smoky saltiness of the ham cutting through the unctuous melted cheese, and of course the classic Prosciutto di Parma and Mantua melon skewers made with specialist melons grown only using natural rainwater.
After sitting at the beautifully laid table we moved on to the mineral lime notes of a Castello di Tasserollo Gavi. Our starter was a perfect summer’s dish of shaved asparagus, salty shards of Prosciutto di Parma – slow baked at 140 degrees Celsius and a soft-boiled egg. It was a perfect early summer’s dish and the baked Prosciutto di Parma was a revelation – do try it at home!
Mains of juicily tender wood-ﬁred monkfish came wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma which gave the fish a salty edge and came with the gentle flavours of borlotti beans cooked with butter and tomatoes. It was one of those classic Italian dishes that is superficially simple but sublimely well-balanced.
Dessert was an innovative Prosciutto di Parma and maple ripple ice cream, made with a Fior di Latte base and flavoured with prosciutto fat. It had that classic salty meaty sweetness that you find in American pancakes served with maple syrup and bacon.
It was wonderful to try Parma Ham in so many different contexts. It’s really worth investing in the proper product with the Golden Crown as nothing else comes close.
And what a beautiful and soulful setting,….. Petersham Nurseries has to one of my favourite haunts, surrounded by an abundance of indoor plants and floral displays, artisan mirrors, glassware and huge chandeliers…. I’m in heaven!
31 King Street,
London WC2E 8JD
Other places to consider in Covent Garden include Bill’s for classic English bistro fare, Little Kolkata for fabulous Indian food or perhaps Grays and Feather for a wonderful selection of sparkling wines and some grazing dishes to complement the fizz