Garnish Du Jour


Basil, corn, cilantro … chefs have been downsizing for years, garnishing dishes with micro greens and shoots. Who of us has not at one time or another gazed in wonderment upon the garnishes that steal the show and the dish? Still, it was surprising when a plate appeared at Corton sprinkled with what resembled shrunken ferns. Was this one-upmanship?

Hardly. The feathery greens are sweet cicely, a tall herb that is a cousin of anise, fennel and caraway. Used sparingly, they give a sweetly chlorophyllic lift to chef Paul Liebrandt’s dishes. A little online digging yielded that home gardeners also like chopping the unripe green seeds into ice cream and the whole ripe seeds into apple pie. A resourceful lot, those gardening mavens.


Sweet cicely is sold by Honey Locust Farm, a two-acre plot in Newburgh, N.Y., that sells greens to the city’s best kitchens — often working with the chefs to plant what they want. (The owner, Nancy MacNamara, has an interesting background that includes studying photography at R.I.S.D. and riding motorcycles, as written in a profile in the summer issue of Edible Manhattan.) Until recently, she also sold it to Mark Ladner at Del Posto, who said he used the herb with bottarga, goose liver, wild salmon and in a lettuce-herbal mix. “Absolutely love it,” he wrote in an e-mail message.

For a meatloaf recipe inspired by Ladner — and fed to Nora Ephron with great success — click here. It calls for mint, but a sweet cicely garnish might prove just the right touch.


The Moment




~ by eaesthete on 07/29/09.

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