An evening organized by Parma Ham is always guaranteed to be a fabulous one, especially when it is held at a venue as beautiful as Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden. Located within an impressive Grade II listed building, I have always liked popping into the shop to have an ogle at all their beautiful handpicked collections of homeware and hand crafted pieces specially curated by the Petersham family, immersed in a green space, abundant with specialist indoor plants and magical floral displays.
It was definitely a pleasure to have the opportunity to dine amidst such splendour – the middle of the room occupied by a grand dining table, adorned with rustic floral décor. The space had a dreamy, fairytale-like feel to it, as the evening sunshine illuminated the room through the Victorian atriums, majestic ceiling chandeliers adding an extra touch of grandeur to the ambience.
We were welcomed with glasses of chilled prosecco and mingled amongst some old and new faces around the room. Having tried my best during the day to save my appetite for the much awaited dinner, I beamed with excitement as the first course of canapés were brought out. There were plates of melt-in-your-mouth Prosciutto di Parma, refreshing mini melon skewers wrapped with Prosciutto di Parma, and my favourite of them all, those delightful mouthfuls of Prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella croquettes – I could have easily devoured an entire tray of those had I not resisted to save enough space for the meal ahead.
Once seated, the ever enthusiastic Georgie from Brand Dialogue gave a brief introduction to Parma Ham and an insight into what the evening entailed – I was already excited by the sound of the dessert, but let’s be patient and leave that til the end!
For those still unfamiliar with this exceptional, world-class speciality food, Parma Ham is a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) product and is 100% natural, made from only two ingredients: Italian pork leg and sea salt. The drying process that it goes through creates a ham that is very low in fat content and contains many mineral salts, vitamins, antioxidants and easily digestible proteins.
The quality and authenticity of Parma Ham is protected by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, and is guaranteed by the Ducal Crown – a five-pointed coronet logo with PARMA in the centre which is branded onto the ham’s skin. No Crown = No Parma Ham (!)
Its sweet flavour and silky texture makes it the perfect snack on its own or as an ideal ingredient in a multitude of recipes – I have attended quite a few events hosted by Parma Ham in the past and I can confirm that it goes well with almost any dish!
The menu on that fine evening was created by Damian Clisby, Chef and Restaurant Director at Petersham Nurseries. Our starter was a light summer salad of shaved asparagus with crispy Prosciutto di Parma, a soft-boiled egg, and leaves that had been picked from a family farm of the owners of Petersham Nurseries in Devon, which provides ingredients for their restaurants. Dressed with lemon and olive oil, it was a simple yet satisfying dish that I’d certainly be interested to try rustling up back home in my kitchen.
The main course was a hearty piece of wood-fired monkfish, sourced from Cornwall, wrapped in (you guessed it!) Prosciutto di Parma and accompanied by borlotti beans cooked with butter, chopped parsley and tomatoes. It has been a while since I had a well-cooked monkfish, which had a lovely meaty texture and had taken on the stronger flavour of the Prosciutto di Parma very well.
Last but not least, we were served the dessert that everyone (or at least most of us with sweet tooths!) had been waiting for – Prosciutto di Parma and maple ripple ice cream. Okay, there wasn’t exactly any distinguishing ripple in it, but you could definitely taste the flavours of the Prosciutto di Parma which worked perfectly together with a subtle hint of maple. I was secretly hoping that a tub of it would have been included in our goodybags.
A word of thanks to Parma Ham and Petersham Nurseries for hosting a wonderful evening. As always I am looking forward to stocking up on more Parma Ham, and inspired to test out more recipes back home in my kitchen.
- I was invited as a guest – views and photos are my own, with the exception of the photo of me credited to Fairlight Studios.