Friday, March 26, 2010

Eating Lavender

Generally I like eating flowers. I love violet pastilles, rose-flavored baklava and rice pudding, and jasmine tea. I love the idea of consuming fragrance. But I hate eating lavender. Maybe it is the deep association with soap--even on the level of semantics, lavender means washing-- or just the sharp herbal edge, but eating or drinking lavender has always repelled me somehow. I love the smell of lavender; it has to be in the top ten of my favorite fragrances, but I can't bear the idea of eating it. For example, once, years ago, a dear friend of mine made some tea cookies for a party I was throwing. So far, so good--I love the powdery, nutty crunchiness of tea cookies. But unfortunately, she spiked them with lavender, which may seem like a good idea to some, but resulted in a cookie which--to my palate at least-- was reminiscent of lavender talcum powder. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but there it is.

Purple Haze Goat Cheese - Cypress Grove - 5 oz
The one exception I have found is something beyond tolerable. It is the incredible chevre made by Cypress Grove called "Purple Haze" and it is truly special. It does not taste or smell medicinal. The lavender is there, but the soapiness is not, perhaps in part because the goat cheese itself is too tangy to be bothered with trace amounts of soapiness, but also because the lavender is balanced with fennel pollen, whose sharp and herbaceous flavor rounds out the herbal profile of this cheese perfectly. It is an artful balance of semi-wild flavors, all bound together in a little heavenly disc of soft cheese. Amazing.

I will continue to try to consume lavender, and I imagine I will continue to dislike most of the results, but at least I know I can always return to this lovely little cheese.


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