food 02.27.08


As the Dar Williams lyric goes: "February was so long that it lasted into March." This morning, an herbal tonic.

Angelica is among the 130 herbs, plants, and flowers said to be in the secret formula of Chartreuse, the liqueur made by Carthusian monks. It may not be fashionable, but we'd never face winter without a bottle nearby.

Basil is the basis of The Nibble's quest to find perfect pesto from among 100 brands tasted.

Borage seeds are available from Nichols Garden Nursery. Leaves can be used in salads, sauteed, and they make the perfect gin and tonic garnish.

Calendula is the herb of the year, so give it up for calendula! The honor is bestowed by the International Herb Association. Calendula is often used in a cream to soothe skin; Neal's Yard makes our favorite.

Chamomile Lip Balm from Bigelow does yeoman's anti-chap service.

Chervil, as well as dill and cilantro, are the spring herbs discussed during a cooking demonstration at Wave Hill on May 9th, 11am.

Dill and Coriander are the two stars of one of Aquavit's aquavits. The restaurant's version has it with Crown Dill, which is dill harvested after blossoming.

Epazote, sometimes called Indian Tea, is much used in Latin cooking. The strong herb, compared often to cilantro, is available dried from Penzeys in Grand Central. The Perfect Pantry says, "I'm not a cilantro person but I love epazote, which to me tastes a bit like citrus and mint (I've also heard the taste described as petroleum or turpentine)" and notes that it grows wild in Central Park.

Fennel oil is applied to grilled whole fish at that jewel Prune, 54 E. 1st St. [1/2] 212.677.6221.

Lavender and honey make up one of the excellent gelatos from il Laboratorio del Gelato, 95 Orchard [Broome/Delancey] 212.343.9922.

Lemon basil is one of the scented candles by Voluspa at Adrien Linford, 927 Mad [73rd/74th] 212.628.4500, and many other retailers.

Lemon verbena, aka verveine, makes a sprightly tea, especially from Harney & Sons.

Oregano is used to ideal effect in the Pollo Scarpariello at Via Oreto, 1121 1st [61st/62nd] 212.308.0828, prepared by the Sicilian mother-and-son team here. It's a half chicken cut into pieces, baked with olive oil, oregano, lemon, and garlic.

Rosemary essential oil is available from Kalustyans, 123 Lex [28th/29th] 212.685.3451.

Sage, combined with potato, garlic, brussels sprouts, and fontina, are the ingredients in the pizzocheri pasta (buckwheat tagliatelle) found at dell'anima, 38 8th [Jane/W. 12th] 212.366.6633.

Thyme, combined with orange peels, is infused into a dark chocolate ganache by masterful chocolate-maker Pierre Marcolini, 485 Park [58th] 212.755.5150.

The Cloisters Herb Garden has over 250 species of herbs, arranged according to use: culinary, aromatic, magic, medicinal, and plants used by medieval artists.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a book Gourmet Herbs that details classic and unusual herbs both for garden and cooking.

Finally, Kiki and Herb will be on hand at Bottlerocket Wines, 5 W. 19th [5th/6th] 212.929.2323, Monday, March 3rd, 6-8pm. Their new DVD will be available for sale and signing. Kiki will no doubt be well into her cups.


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