Unwind with delectable whisper of lavender

August 26, 2021

Though there seems to be no escaping the overworked culinary buzzword, “farm to table,” the fact remains that for every table, there’s got to be at least one farm. And it’s not just about peaches, corn or chicken: Local farms also grow herbs and spices that can make those peaches, fried chicken and corn taste even better. Lavender Fields in Milton is one of those farms that incorporates its fragrant crops into restaurant dishes and various products.

In October 2002, Baltimore transplants Marie Mayor and the late Sharon Harris purchased the facility from the original “Lavender Lady,” Pauline Pettit. She had bought it in 1994 from John and Martha Heikel who, interestingly enough, acquired the land in 1973 from the Brittingham family, founders of none other than Lewes Dairy.

Highly popular in Victorian times, lavender’s calming effects are enjoying a resurgence as massage oils, antiseptics, antifungals and even insect repellents. Marie blends the tiny buds with sugar to enhance lemon meringue pie, vinaigrettes, marinades, lemonade, pasta sauces and even the caramelized crust of crème brûlée. Strawberry margarita lavender preserves (complete with triple sec and tequila) are intoxicatingly delicious on warm toast.

It’s a fortunate turkey and cheese sandwich that gets to be slathered with chardonnay-infused lavender wine jelly, and French sea salt with lavender can be sprinkled onto bread dough brushed with olive oil just before baking. Hot water can be steeped with lavender buds, rose petals and green or white tea leaves to create a refreshing pick-me-up. And if a local restaurant is serving lavender lemonade, get it! Lavender and lemons are an amazing combination.

Marie tells me that the elegant flavor of the plant is actually experienced as an aftertaste. The floral accent sits quietly in the background, and you detect it when you exhale. The magic lies in the fact that a very small amount achieves the intended effect. Mint, thyme and sage share the same botanical family with lavender, so no wonder it works in so many savory dishes.

Late summer and fall are the perfect times to take the short drive to Lavender Fields at 18864 Cool Spring Road, off Route 9 just past Brimming Horn Meadery. Inhale the aroma and visit the busy bees that make the farm’s lavender honey. 

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