Flower power! Savoring summer's most soothing blossom—in cheese, with lamb, as a shake.
Most people think of lavender as an additive to a relaxing bath, a bar of soap or a satchel you put in your clothes drawer. Thankfully for gastronomes, that's not all it’s good for. Chefs, confectioners and bartenders around town are whipping up this versatile summer flower into all sorts of delicious, edible fare.
Though most folks associate lavender with the French, the flower actually originated in the Mediterranean, and popular belief holds that the Romans brought it to continental Europe. Lavender use can be traced back 2,500 years, and we now cultivate about 115 varieties of it around the world.
Cooking with lavender boomed after the spice mix Herbes de Provence made its way to the American market in the 1970s. Although the original French version leaves out the flower, the American rendering includes it. The most common types of lavender used in cooking are the English and French varieties, and they can be prepared in many ways. We found a classic cocktail infused with it, barbecue sauce that gets a flowery kick, and honey that spends weeks soaking up its essence. Here's where to get them.
By Linnea Covington; photos by Donny Tsang