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Lavender, the new ‘it’ ingredient

June 20, 2011

Highlights: Cheap entrance fee.  free parking. short quick lines.  creative, organic  foods.  a well-organized event in a large, open venue. overall it’s located in a resort!

This past Father’s day weekend, John and I ventured from a city populated with about 4 million people to a town with less than 40 thousand people.  Located in Cherry Valley,  the Highland Springs resort held its annual lavender festival for the 7th year. The roadtrip there was beautiful, surrounded by mountains and clear from the smogged skies.  When I think of anything lavender, I picture skin products, candles, and decoration.  According to my chef friend,  lavender is an underrated herb that is getting recognized in the culinary world.

So how does it taste?  The lavender has a sweet but light floral flavor; too much would taste like car freshener.  It reminds me of a very light jasmine taste and can be used as a herb, like rosemary.  We first ordered the chicken tandoori kebab, lavender beef brisket, and iced lavender green tea. The chicken kebab was marinated in lavender-spiced yogurt, served with soft pita bread, and a cucumber-mint yogurt sauce.  The lavender colors are visible on the chicken, but taste was very light.  The cucumber-mint sauce was a perfect pairing to the juicy chicken.

John ordered the lavender beef brisket that was marinated in lavender-honey mustard vinaigrette.  The strips of beef were tender and had a tangy taste.  He didn’t enjoy the brisket as much as I did with the chicken.  The floral taste was also very light.  The lavender green tea was a favorite.  It was so refreshing that we ordered another.For dessert, we ordered the lavender-honey ice cream and lemon cupcakes with lavender-lemon icing.  I loved the ice cream.  Although, the girl sitting next to me didn’t seem to enjoy it.  She commented that it was too sweet for her and needed something salty to balance it out.  John loved the cupcakes;  I didn’t because of the thick cream cheese icing

Before we left, we ordered the German brat, corn on the cob, quinoa salad, and organic granola nuggets. Although none were infused with lavender, the ingredients were fresh and grown in the farm.

the best granola nuggets

Aside from the food, there were many activities to entertain the all ages.  We enjoyed the educational demo, the live music, observing the crowds, and just sitting out in the fields.  It was well-organized event upon parking, to the venue set-up, food lines, until the very end.  The outdoor restroom trailers were almost as clean as my bathroom.  At the end of the day, we tapped into all our senses: stomachs filled with lavender dishes, skin rubbed with oils, and the scent of lavender filled our lungs.  It felt like I just walked out of a spa, minus the relaxed massages. 

More pictures on my facebook page.  If you have a chance, check out other upcoming lavender fests in Sonoma, Ojai Valley, Paso Robles, or other festivals.



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