Who wants to be stuck in the middle of the table as a centerpiece? Flowers aren’t just hanging out in vases anymore, they’re moving onto menus and showing up on dinner plates. An increasing number of chefs are using edible flowers for appetizers, drinks, entrees and desserts.
Fueled by inspirational spreads on Instagram and Pinterest, the trend for botanicals has been booming in recent years—and it may reach a peak this season, as diners gravitate toward dishes that inspire thoughts of spring. Floral flavor use in food and beverage applications has grown 88 percent over the past year, according to market research firm Mintel.
Springtime on a plate
Some of the most popular edible flowers include marigold, violas, nasturtiums, cornflowers and roses. They’re being infused in ice creams, stirred into compound butters, frozen into ice cubes for craft cocktails and used as delicate garnishes for main-dish salads. Not only do flowers add a pop of color to the plate, but they provide a subtly sweet taste and a delicious aroma.
At New York’s Atera restaurant, chef Matthew Lightner created an all-orange dish of nasturtium blossoms, sea urchin and sweet potatoes. He also rolls scoops of spicy chocolate sorbet into a chopped profusion of wild violet petals. Chef-owner David Kinch makes floral bouillons with peppery nasturtiums as a springtime special at Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, California. Even food trucks are showing some flower power. At the Foodie Farmhouse, based in Sonoma, California, executive chef Jenni Emory features a watermelon, watercress and feta salad tossed in a balsamic reduction and garnished with local edible flowers.