Lavender, What Is It Good For?
There's an entire Greenmarket stall devoted to it--and you can smell it from a block away.
Lavender is the most unloved of herbs. Apart from use in a minor role in a Provencale bouquet garni, it rarely sees action as anything but pillow stuffing. But does it have its uses? You bet, and they may be multiplying.
You can almost smell it through the computer screen.
Fifteen years ago, a Hell's Kitchen Argentine place named Chimchurri Grill made a splash by serving lavender flan. But I can't recall anyone saying they liked it.
Little bits of lavender (or even violet) candy are sometimes used by pastry chefs as decorations, but only cautiously, since the flavor tends to remind you of soap.
More recently, 10 Downing (now sadly closed) had a gin-based cocktail called lavender lemonade, and Café Sabarsky has a lavender-chamomile tea, but those are beverages and not dishes. It's easier to drink something with an overly flowery scent than eat it, even when your nostrils shout "Whoa!"
Boldy, the General Greene has a lavender sweet-potato mash advertised among its small plates in their Menupages listing - but it seems to have significantly gone missing from the current menu as represented on their website.
Is there anything great you can do with lavender? Well, Doughnut Plant proves there is. Their lavender donut is a wealth of subtle flavor, well-frosted and embedded with tiny lavender chips. Wolf down one of these donuts, and I guarantee you won't be thinking of soap.
Doughnut Plant 379 Grand Street 212-505-3700
Donut Plant 220 West 23rd Street 212-675-9100
Doughnut Plant's lavender donut: The trick to using lavender turns out to be extreme moderation, like saffron.
Take a look at last week's 10 Best Donuts.
Follow me on Twitter -- @robertsietsema
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