Just as Jane Austen intended…
There’s a lot to be said for ‘escapism’ when living in London. A fast-paced city lifestyle needs to be balanced out for a period of time -even if only for a few hours- with some kind of tranquil form of heaven. I was lucky enough to experience this with a visit to Cannizaro House in Wimbledon -a stately home hotel, nested in 32 acres of land with a London postcode but an other-worldly charm.
Cannizaro House was like stepping into a page from a Jane Austen novel. Except with cool, contemporary furniture. Just a short cab journey from Wimbledon tube station (not really walkable), we found ourselves leaving the smog of London’s high-rises behind. Our chariot escorted us down a never-ending stretch of lane, zipping its way through the middle of sprawling fields which seemed to have appeared out of the city from nowhere. As the trees ahead of us parted, we found ourselves pulling into a clearing which was graced by the beautifully traditional and impressively imposing regency 4* hotel grounds.
We were given the choice of eating in the formal dining room, complete with white crockery, silver cutlery and best behaviour, or of opting for the more relaxed, recently renovated part of the hotel; the Orangery. We opted for the latter option and arriving in the huge conservatory extension, we sat down with a bottle of crisp, chilled Pinot Grigio and watched the hot orange sun set behind the vast, picturesque landscape in front of our tired eyes. Easy listening jazz whispered through the area and the warm, bubbling atmosphere breathed life into our city-worn souls. We were utterly unwound by Cannizaro House and all it’s splendor. Thinking we couldn’t possibly feel any further indulged, the food swept us off our feet as Fitzwilliam Darcy did with Elizabeth Bennet in similar surroundings.
We begun our culinary love affair with antipasti; lucious green un-pitted olives, hand-rolled bread sticks, marinated anchovies, rich creme di pecorino cheese and a fabric embroidered bag full of freshly baked artisan breads. Washing the rustic flavours down with hearty slugs of wine, we were presented with a platter of hand carved Brindisa Iberico bellota ham. In translation, we enjoyed wafer-thin slices of cured acorn-fed ham which boasted warm, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth flavours.
At this point of the evening, we relocated and sat up to the chef’s bar to recline in comfort whilst watching our main courses being prepared. As we looked on, our hard-working chefs effortlessly created two beautiful main courses -the pork dish for my plus one and the bream for myself. Both exceeded expectations -which, by this point in the evening were pretty high. Perfectly sized portions, expertly cooked meats and all finished off with an exciting medley of flavours. In this city-escape to our fictional haven, we’d been well and truly wooed and didn’t require any further grand displays of romanticism -however, they arrived regardless, much to our delight.
Our exquisite mains were followed by tasty desserts, full-bodies coffees and glasses of beers and house wines to sample. Our desserts consisted of a zingy, refreshing Prosecco jelly with mascarpone and an almond biscuit, as well as a classic chocolate choice for my plus one; a stunningly light, flavoursome espresso mousse. The pair of us sat in silence, eating our desserts which is always a good sign of great food. The house wines were full bodied and smooth -not surprising given that they were carefully selected and shipped over with the hotel in mind. As was the delightful sweet-tasting mellow beer, which lacked a bitter aftertaste whilst certainly packing a punch with it’s 8.5% volume.
Our coffees were the final full stop on our poetic excerpt from a countryside escape. Sweeping through the boutique hotel and towards our waiting black cab, we felt saddened by having to leave this worry-free bubble of luxury and return back to our hectic lives. Maybe my next stay will involve the hotel, so that after I’ve tried all the parts of the menu I missed this time, I can prolong my stay and wake up in paradise too. Yes, there’s certainly a lot to be said for ‘escapism’ when living in London…