The Lost Orchard: A French chef rediscovers a great British food heritage
by Raymond Blanc
‘I began to dream about an orchard filled with thousands of fruit trees… Today we have an orchard with over 150 ancient varieties of apple. Each one has its heritage in a village or a county that used to thrive on that particular variety. They tell the story not only of what we have lost in Britain but also what we could regain.’
Over the past seven years, Raymond Blanc has planted an orchard of 2,500 trees in the grounds of his hotel-restaurant in Oxfordshire. Yielding about 60 tonnes of fruit for his kitchen each year, it is full of ancient and forgotten varieties of British apples and pears, along with walnut trees, quince, medlars, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, damsons and cherries. A further 600 heritage fruit trees have been added from Raymond’s home in the Franche-Comte region of France.
The Lost Orchard is a love letter to each of these varieties, complete with beautiful black and white drawings, photographs of Belmond Le Manoir and fascinating information and anecdotes about each fruit, along with recipes and stories.