The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas


May 24, 2014

COOKING WITH SIMON: Celebrate Memorial Day with countryside dining

Happy Memorial Day to everyone! What a great celebration.

But when I have memories of loved ones who served in wars I remember my uncles and granddad in both World Wars, and the harrowing experiences of my great-aunt who survived prison camps during World War II.

They were all British soldiers, she a nurse, and it amazes me the hardships that some of them survived.

When I lived in New Zealand these special weekends were spent on the water – sailing, dining and eating on the boat. But in England, where I was born, and later lived for many years, the weekends were spent on the countryside near stately homes.

As you probably know there are many homes, castles and manors throughout England and they’re surrounding grounds would be perfect for a holiday picnic.

One of my favorites was the home of the Duke and Duchess of Derbyshire. Called Chatsworth house, it was set on 100 acres of what is now park land. The house had over 200 rooms and the scenery was gorgeous for a picnic.

When I watch the show Downton Abbey it reminds me of Chatsworth. Many of the old manors were turned into restaurants, inns or stores after the family was no longer able to take care of them.

Chatsworth had a great restaurant and food store where much of the local produce was sold, along with chickens, beef and bakery products.

When the new season of Downton Abbey premieres we want to do a proper English dinner at Sabor a Pasion.

How fitting and fortunate to have an English chef in Palestine to properly emulate this great and classic way of life. As portrayed in Downton Abbey, the family who lives in the manor expects proper service from the English staff and doesn’t care for the ways of Westerners.

But all in good humor, since I’ve been in Texas for ten years, the British side of me has taken a back seat.

Across the pond, I catered and served these types of dinners all the time through my restaurant in Derbyshire.

I would love to revisit all of the recipes I used to prepare in England and make sure the dinner is as proper for Palestine as it would be for Dukes, Duchesses and royalty across the pond.

But this story is about relaxing on the English countryside, or any countryside, and enjoying the view with a picnic.

I had some ladies in Tyler request a cooking class about this subject and I will be doing a class at Sweet Gourmet in Tyler that features some of my favorite British picnic recipes.

There is still plenty of room in the class, if you would like to attend. Or, if you have a group of friends in Palestine who are interested I would love to repeat the class at Sabor a Pasion.

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