Long gone are the days when a trip to England would require a traveler to brace himself for a week or two of bland, uninspiring food. Now, old Blighty is home to very much the opposite: a colorful and thriving culinary scene grounded firmly in the locavore movement—and the Sag Harbor-based boutique tour company Caplan Rose is ready to show it off.
Launched earlier this year, Caplan Rose is the brainchild of Sag Harbor residents Katharine Battle and Emily Goldstein. The company combines both Katharine and Emily’s talents and expertise to offer intimate, informed tours of exceptional private gardens, art, and architecture in rural England.
“Emily has an art gallery in East Hampton and I’m obviously British,” says Katharine, nodding to her accent. “Emily’s husband is an Anglophile and professional gardener. They often explore gardens together, and when she described their experiences in England, some of her gallery clients asked about coming along. And because I go to Britain all the time and used to do travel writing, we thought, ‘Why don’t we do this together?'”
It was an excellent question—and one that, in a short time, has already yielded excellent results. Since founding Caplan Rose, Katharine and Emily have completed one tour—From Intimate to Grand in the Cotswolds and Somerset—and planned another two. The first, set to begin on September 11, will explore Art and Landscape, with the Parrish Art Museum in tow. The second, beginning on September 17, will focus on English Kitchen Gardens in the Cotswolds & West Sussex. (Be still our edible-garden-loving hearts.)
“We always knew we wanted to create a tour like this, but our trip to England back in May really confirmed our interest,” says Emily. “We spent two weeks following the tour on our own, and visiting numerous kitchen gardens. It really affirmed that this was a great focus.”
“It was fabulous,” agrees Katharine. “Everywhere we went, all the food was locavore. That’s what made us think more seriously about this. Right now in Britain there is such a renaissance in sustainable gardening, and it shows. The gastronomy in England is just so different to what it used to be.”
That’s why guests on Caplan Rose’s upcoming tour can look forward to impeccable meals at acclaimed organic and farm-to-table restaurants. They can also look forward to once-in-a-lifetime glimpses at some of England’s most exquisite edible gardens.
Tour highlights include: “An extremely rare visit to Eythrope, Jacob Rothschild’s impeccably restored walled garden designed by Mary Keen; Prince Charles’ innovative and sustainable kitchen garden at Highgrove; West Dean’s immaculate walled fruit and vegetable gardens and Victorian glasshouses; Parham House’s romantic plan combining edibles and ornamental cutting garden; and an expansive private kitchen garden by prize-winning English designer Arne Maynard.”
“We keep pinching ourselves,” says Katharine. “We can’t believe they’re letting us come and see some of these places.”
The kitchen garden tour begins on September 17 and runs through September 22. Because Caplan Rose likes to keep their tours intimate, the maximum number of travelers is limited to just 10. All breakfasts and dinners are included (and sure to be outstanding), and transportation is provided via a chauffeur-driven mini-coach to ensure maximum comfort. The cost is $5,200 per person (with a single supplement available for $800).
“We’re incredibly excited,” says Emily. “The focus on kitchen gardens is so distinctive. We definitely haven’t seen this done by any tour company before. But then again, we’re not really a tour company. We’re two people who have a passion.”
For more information on Caplan Rose, please visit their website. To register for their upcoming tour on Walled Kitchen Gardens and Locavore Cuisine, please contact Katharine and Emily directly by Friday, July 7.