Like many people, I associate the scent of lavender with calmness; on a recent walk, I noticed a lavender plant along the path, and gathered a handful of sprigs to inhale deeply. The smell brings me to the present, offering both ease and a subtle re-invigoration. I’m reminded of how this calm aura extends into my experience cooking with lavender.
If you practice gardening, you may know the difference between varieties of lavender. While a gardener choosing between French and English lavender will consider factors such as hardiness, size, and bloom time, at our shop we gravitate towards French lavender for its subtly. Its light aroma lends itself to a myriad of methods for baking, seasoning, and pairing.
The lavender plant, a perennial shrub, originally arose from the Mediterranean and Middle East. It wasn’t until the 19th century, that Provence, France began cultivating fields of lavender. Provence is a region in Southeastern France, bordering the Italy border and the Mediterranean Sea. As I look at photo after photo of the lavender bloom, which happens between June and August, I’m overwhelmed with the intensity of the lush, vibrant hue; my imagination attempts to grasp the astounding aroma that would envelop one in person, as they walked through the field of pastel.
In my cupboard, I currently have a bag of our French lavender: super blue lavender flowers sourced from France. Lately, I’ve starting steeping this as a pure lavender tea in the evenings, light, and almost savory. I then began to recall all of the ways in which lavender is incorporated into seasoning, sugar, and baking ideas at our shop. I’d like to take you through a tour of these, or rather a virtual experience of walking through those fields of lavender––an exercise of imagination and playfulness.
If you are seeking methods of using lavender in savory cooking, our Herbes de Provence, Sel de Provence, and Herbes de Provence Extra Virgin Olive Oil will be your antidote. From its name, you might have already deciphered that Herbes de Provence is a blend of herbs, which arose from the French region of Provence. This blend is historically used in summer (when the lavender is harvested). The blend became popularized in the 1960s when Julia Childs used it in her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This dried mixture of summer herbs includes thyme, blue lavender, rosemary, marjoram, fennel seed, savory and basil. We recommend rubbing it into meat or fish before grilling, or as a flavorful addition to any French or Mediterranean cooking.
This blend is so beloved that we decided to offer it as a salt as well in our Sel de Provence featuring French Fleur de Sel Sea Salt and the seven traditional French Herbs, which makes it a classic complement for any French dish you may be cooking this summer. Or, if you’re looking for a savory marinade, our Herbes de Provence Olive Oil, made from 100% California grown and certified extra virgin olive oil embodies the summertime in Provence. Use to marinate chicken overnight, on roasted potatoes or grilled vegetables to add immense floral, piney and herbaceous flavor to your favorite recipes.
As we ease into summer, you may find yourself craving a spin on an essential stand-by: lemonade. Our owner, Lindy, came up with a delightful recipe for Lavender Lemonade. You can learn how to make lavender simple syrup, which can be used to experiment with your own beverage or added as a vibrant sweetener for iced tea. We also recommend rimming your glass with our French Lavender Sugar.
This brings me two final recommendations for sweet lavender delights, to spruce up your brunch menu, afternoon tea, or summer dessert. Even the names are enticing: Lemon Lavender Greek Yogurt Pound Cake and Waffles with Lavender Butter. You’ll find that simple waffles and pound cake are transformed by the robust, playful flavor of lavender––the summer bloom in Provence.
Even as our virtual walk comes to a close here, I hope it continues through your own experiments with lavender. Our kitchens can be a calm, lush sanctuary, too.
Tasting the world one dish at a time,