A trend for food and flowers
“Why on earth an Artful Diner should be arranging flowers of an afternoon is, of course, a valid question.”The Artful Diner
One very rainy afternoon recently I found myself tucked away in the McQueens floristry school on Old Street quietly humming along to classical music while arranging lilac, roses and myrtle into a floral display. Why on earth an Artful Diner should be arranging flowers of an afternoon is of course a valid question. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, flowers – whether arranging them, decorating your table with them or eating them – are having something of a moment.
This month Taste of London is hosting its first event matching wine, food and flowers, the Laurent-Perrier Tous Les Sens Champagne Masterclass, (see my Taste round-up). Earlier this year Stylist magazine addressed a growing (pardon the pun) trend towards all things floral in an issue whose cover image was made up of 3,000 plants. Meanwhile Blueprint Café is hosting a number of flower-arranging masterclasses run by McQueens on the topics of entertaining and celebrating with flowers.
A picture-perfect table arrangement...
Duncan McCabe, the McQueens course tutor at Blueprint, was in charge of helping me arrange my lilac, roses and myrtle into some semblance of order at the floristry school that rainy day. I have to say, I absolutely loved it. When I emerged with my completed table centrepiece (see the gallery, below) my feelings towards the world, the rain and work were ones of Zen-like calm. Here are some of the things I learnt along the way…
Low arrangements work well as table centrepieces. Floral foam will make sure your display keeps in place, and it’s important to keep everything secure – don’t be afraid to use florists tape. As per Blue Peter, double-sided tape is also a wonder.
Don’t sink floral foam underwater or it will have air pockets; instead, allow it to soak the water gradually, which shouldn’t take more than a minute or so.
Cover your pot with, for example, aspidistra leaves, which we trimmed, carefully filing off the stems at the back of each leaf to flatten them.
Place your greenery first (we used myrtle), sharpening each stem with a knife. The secret is not to distribute the foliage evenly but in clusters, as this looks more natural.
Use a variety of flowers and foliage to provide texture. We worked with myrtle tarantina, lilac, lady’s mantle and two shades of lilac rose, memory lane and ocean song.
Duncan’s tips on using flowers to complement your meal…
Match the feel of the arrangement to the style of cooking. For a rustic and organic menu choose a mixture of foliage and garden flowers, arranged simply. For an Oriental style go minimal or monochromatic and for a bountiful feast design with a luxurious mass of one type of flower in one colour.
Treat scent with caution especially in an intimate setting. The heavenly scented flowers from your local florist could overpower on a dining table, interfering with the delicate flavour of your food.
Experiment and have fun! One gorgeous arrangement will always look amazing in the centre of a table, but a collection of vases, bottles or jam jars clustered together with a few well-chosen blooms can look sensational.
Attention to detail is key. Condition and handle flowers carefully. Take your time to artfully arrange, as your creation will be viewed at close quarters. Complete with tea-lights or candles. This will take the visual impact of your table composition to the next level.
Book places at the Blueprint Café McQueens Masterclasses (£45 per person), held on 16 June and 21 July.
Find out more about this year’s Taste of London and the Laurent-Perrier Tous Les Sens Champagne Masterclass.