From South Kensington Farmers’ Market to royal gardens and upmarket restaurants, here’s where to make the best of spring – and the Easter holidays – in one of London’s most revered neighbourhoods…
Spring is a time of new life, and for no-one is this more true than the die-hard foodie, who is free of the shackles of the limited cold-weather produce. In Kensington, those desperate to create a recipe they haven’t been able to in months should flock to South Kensington Market. It’s a fixture year-round, taking place every Saturday from 9am-2pm, but like everything else during this wonderful season, it is going through something of a rebirth.
The stalls flow with fruit and vegetables not seen in a while, but as soon as you get that first taste it will be like you were never apart. There is more to the market than just standard grocers’ fare too. There are artisan cheeses, fresh line-caught fish, and heavenly baked goods among many other treats.
Kensington Gardens are gorgeous all year round, but perhaps never more so than when those first buds peek through
After you’ve bought your Danish pastry or wedge of gouda, or baked a homemade quiche, the next question is where to eat them. And in this spring and Kensington excels again – with flowers and trees starting to bloom, there is motivation to leave the house. Kensington Gardens are gorgeous all year round, but perhaps never more so than when those first buds are just beginning to peek through. Why not wait for a bright day, bring a picnic, sit among the shrubbery, and enjoy the crisp spring air?
And for those who love the food but not the prep, or who would rather enjoy what’s on offer indoors, many local restaurants will be taking advantage of the seasonal changes, updating menus with locally sourced produce. One notable example is the restaurant at the Royal Garden Hotel.
‘From the start of April I embrace the lovely produce that is available in this country, says RGH executive chef Steve Munkley. ‘Our philosophy in the restaurant is to source produce as locally as possible and to support British farmers. We’ve served Exeter black beef for seven years – and it’s consistently excellent.’
From the start of April I embrace the lovely produce that is available in this country. Our philosophy in the restaurant is to source produce as locally as possible
It’s not just the usual suspects – asparagus, strawberries, broad beans, peas, Jersey Royals, spring lamb – that become available at this time of year, there are many things not traditionally associated with the season that are best enjoyed right now.
‘The waters round the country are easier to fish now it is a little warmer,’ Munkley tells us. ‘The sole is lovely, and the flatfish, monkfish and turbot are all good too. Then delicious salmon will come in towards the end of April.’
This serves as an important lesson to take advantage of what’s on offer while we can, because sometimes we forget how things can change mid-season: ‘Great products become available or others prove less popular,’ Munkley says. ‘For example, we like to use garlic leaf in soups or salads but it has a really short shelf life of about five weeks and then it’s gone.’
Easter in Kensington
Easter weekend is a great chance to have a fun day out with nieces and nephews, twice the size and unrecognizable since the last time you saw them. And if they are your children, you might be desperate for something to do, just to get them out of the house for a few hours!
Thankfully there is always plenty going on around Kensington at Easter time – perhaps more this year than ever. The Design Museum is hosting free interactive drop-in sessions to complement their Technology Will Save Us exhibition. These family-friendly events will allow the little ones and not-so-little-ones to play around with all sorts of weird and wacky things – we don’t know what an Electro Dough kit is, but it sounds amazing. You can even invent and code a wearable app, less tricky than it sounds we’re sure!
If you’re after something that’s more relaxing than mind-bending, maybe you’ll be heading to the sanctuary of the Roof Gardens. On Easter Monday, they are hosting an Easter egg hunt for kids, followed by a crafts and face painting session, during which adults can enjoy tasty Easter-themed canapés and a glass of fizz, safe in the knowledge that their charges are being taken care of and having a great time.
And while traditions may vary – for some, a lighter breakfast of hot cross buns might preface a crisp walk on a spring day; for others a hearty full English might be followed by a day of gluttony – there is one aspect that is central to almost every family’s Easter celebrations: the Sunday roast. There’s nothing to match that feeling of sitting around a dinner table, plates emptied, stomachs fit to burst, at the end of a huge feast.
This Easter, if you don’t feel like basting, stuffing and carving, why not head down to the Park Terrace at the Royal Garden Hotel, for one of their fantastic lunches? The award-winning restaurant offers stunning views of Kensington Gardens, and there’s little they do better than a traditional feast, with some novel twists. They will be offering a springtime classic, saddle of lamb with the option to have it carved at the table, alongside a host of sustainable, locally sourced roasted vegetables, which you’ll be able to bookend with something a bit more exotic: past starters include sweetcorn soup with truffle popcorn, while treats such as cinnamon churros with a Toblerone dip will be sure to keep the kids happy. There’s even been a honey roast pear on offer, if you haven’t quite had your fill of roast!
So get off the sofa, out of the house, and down to the Royal Garden Hotel, or wherever you want to enjoy the season’s blessings before it’s too late. After all, spring only comes around once a year…