Cavalli chef Francesco Brocca is known for his innovative themed menus. This time last year asparagus was on the themed menu at Dubai’s Cavalli Club and Restaurant and even the dessert featured this versatile vegetable. This month, acknowledging that love is in the air, Richard has plumped for petals as his key ingredient.
“When I was two years old playing in my mother’s garden, I ate a dandelion, and at that age it wasn’t especially tasty, but luckily my appreciation for edible flowers has grown with age,” explains Francesco. “There are a whole bunch of edible flowers that can be used in a variety of dishes to add both flavour and colour, including calendula, violets, roses, borage, lavender, nasturtiums, chrysanthemum, carnations and sunflowers to name but a few. Their tastes are diverse and range from bitter to sour to sweet.
“Calendula is one of the more popular flowers to cook with. It’s often used as a substitute for saffron as it has a slightly spicy, tangy and peppery taste, and adds golden colour to dishes. Nasturtiums likewise have a peppery flavour and are often likened to watercress and used as a substitute for capers. Roses, violets and lavender are used for decorative purposes, or infused into dishes to give a sweet flavour, while borage, which falls under the ‘herb flower’ category, has a cucumber-like taste.”
If you’d like to taste the amazing flavours of flowers, Cavalli’s ‘Fashionably Floral’ menu features several varities in dishes ranging from a floral English garden salad to slow-poached Scottish salmon with borage and chive flowers, and for dessert we recommend the red roses and blue violet panna cotta. If you’d like to experiment with flowers in your own cooking, in the UAE 24-hour gourmet grocer Milk & Honey is the best place to buy edible flowers and we’ve sourced some amazing recipes to get your started – feel the flower power!
INFO: Cavalli, Fairmont Dubai, 04 332 9260, www. cavalliclubdubai.com; Milk & Honey, Palm Jumeirah, Shoreline Building 10, 04 432 8686, www.milkandhoney. ae (another store is opening in Meadows Town Centre).