Continuing the Autumnal theme may I introduce to you Lavandula. My kitchen has that very pungent but glorious smell wafting through and up the stairs this week as I hang bundles of the stuff from my Provencal beams. So….
Provence, the land of Lavender.
Herbs of Provence, we all know that, did include lavender after being introduced by spice wholesalers, however, with all its links to Provence its still not recognised in French cooking and definitely not Provencal cooking. It is however, creeping into the concept of fusion cooking that has swept the world over the last few years as spices and varying provisions are becoming more readily available alongside the growing interest in travel and food culture.
The buds or flowers of the lavender are what make the oil and infused with a basic sugar syrup, it’s the base for a plethora of guilty pleasures.
Lets start with that Aperitif, the before dinner drink. A cocktail that leads you into a waiting dinner menu with nothing but fine anticipation to what lies ahead. The Lavender Collins. Its fresh, fragrant & very very good.
So its fragrant flavour makes for a good addition to many a tea. Its subtle flavour adds to contemporary sugars, and it pairs so incredibly well with my old favourite, chocolate. Goats cheese is another unexpectedly good companion for lavender too and when both are consumed by a local honey, there is not a lot that comes close to such an enviable mix. I have linked the photo below to some cheese recipes I have been twisting, since my lovely friend Patsy introduced me to the art of making undoubtedly the best cheese I had had in a long time. I decided to mix the cheese and chocolate together & not only produced a radical cheesecake but also a delicious salad replacing the traditional chocolate with cocoa nibs.
So whether it be lavender honey, A touch of lavender in your custard, the subtle lavender oil drizzled over your newly acquired love of making cheese or simply just the smell radiating through your room as that giant bunch of lavender dries hanging from the ceiling, you will never think of it as simply Lavender again.