Kew On A Plate - Spring

Confirmed for BBC Two on 16 March at 9.00pm to 10.00pm

Ep 1/4

Monday 16 March



Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc and presenter Kate Humble have been given the unique opportunity to spend a year at the famous botanical gardens at Kew, to re-establish the long-lost kitchen gardens that once provided produce for the royal table - from George II to Queen Victoria.

In this first episode, it is spring at Kew, and after a long, dark winter, nature is coming back to life. Raymond learns about the famous rhubarb triangle in Yorkshire, where early rhubarb was produced, before harvesting his own at Kew to make his sublime version of rhubarb and custard. And what better way to complement this dessert than with the exotic spice vanilla? Kate finds out how a 12 year-old slave enabled vanilla to become the popular flavour it is today.

Nothing heralds the arrival of spring more than the first fresh asparagus and so Raymond gets to work planting some asparagus crowns at Kew. Domestic historian Ruth Goodman shows Kate an old Roman asparagus recipe and Raymond makes a light spring dish – grilled asparagus tips.

For his fresh spring spinach and chorizo tortilla, Raymond harvests the first potato crop of the season, while Kate discovers how war with France turned us into a nation of potato eaters. She also reveals how a toxic chemical was an ingredient used to brighten the colour of dull green canned peas in Victorian times.

And as the season draws to a close, Kate takes a ride on the Watercress Line where she hears the rags-to-riches story of Eliza James, the Covent Garden Watercress Queen. Back at Kew, Raymond and Kate sample some micro watercress to use as a garnish for Raymond’s pea risotto.