Barberries and Flower Water


So I'm doing a little pre-wedding soiree for some 20 friends of a friend at Rousdon Manor on the tranquil Rousdon Estate at the end of the month. The menu they have chosen goes like this: starting with Serrano Jamon, Roasted Tomatoes, Pan de Higo (Fig and Almond cake) and leaves, main course; Shoulder of Lamb stuffed with Saffron rice (with Pistachios and Barberries), orange flower scented gravy, glazed carrots and green beans served with homemade laban (yogurt) flavoured with crushed garlic and for desert a flower water syllabub with triple sec served with sable biscuits and scattered with rose petals and pistachios. Sounds good no? Well if you like middle eastern flavours as I do, then it makes your mouth water something chronic.

Anyway, menu all devised and then happily given the green light by the client, I realised I didn't have half the ingredients I needed. My cupboard is usually over flowing with saffron, rose water, pistachios, barberries, orange blossom water, dried limes and other hard to find (in Dorset) middle eastern delicacies. However, Richard Mabb - the source of all these delights has stopped doing a market stall in town because of his expanding dried delicacies business; Gustosecco. He also used to sell little dried persian figs, chorizo, Serrano, olives, nougat............... I might be a little slimmer since he stopped coming to town (joke), but I miss all those things dearly.

Well I tried finding these things in our local Waitrose - costs the earth and the rose water was not good, the health food shops could only provide the odd bag of pistachios and the Saffron in Morrissons is murderously expensive (they major in pies, what was I expecting?). So I called Richard to see if he could possibly help out, and you know what, like a culinary fairy god mother he promised to look through his stock and pull out what he could and deliver it to a shop in town on his way through. I feel blessed and relieved in equal measure. I'll let you know how the practice dishes go.......