Did you know you can eat the flower of the lowly carrot? This delicate white spray, akin to Queen Anne’s Lace, not only has a mild carrot flavour but is very beautiful. “It’s a big surprise!” says Corinne Mooney of Ottawa Edible Flowers. Even the conventional edible blooms — nasturtiums in salads and violets on cakes — are left behind on many plates. As Danielle Schami, owner of Franktown House Flowers, opines, “A lot of people don’t know.”
Listen, there’s a whole world of flowers we can eat. Some blooms may not have much flavour, but they’re showstoppers, adding aesthetic appeal to any dish — or glass. You can taste the licorice in anise hyssop, however. And although the bloom is tall, it is easily separated. Next time you mix up a bowl of peaches and melons, scatter the violet florets on top.
Candytuft, in colours ranging from white to pink to purple, tastes peppery like a mild radish, perfect for a mâche-and-endive salad.
Mooney raves about fuchsias, three-dimensional psychedelic-looking flowers in pink and purple that will make your gin and tonic sparkle. Meanwhile, tiny wax begonias are sour, “like biting into a lemon,” says Mooney, which means they are great with Campari.
Over at Fairouz, chef Walid El-Tawel sometimes strews them over his chilled yogurt-and-herb soup. Snapdragons are slightly bitter, but Carrie Bradley, owner of Patisserie La Toque, decorates her cakes with Franktown’s blossoms in shades of red and burgundy. Extra lusciousness!
These days, Mooney is looking into crystallizing her Here’s the beef: Sumptuous beef short owribnsarroeservaenddwviteh robuegnh-acupteptaaplpsar—deblley dipping them in egg wnhoiotdeleasnadndsburagiaserd, wmuhsihcrhoonmost only preserves them but makes them crunchy and sweet. Meanwhile, Schami is hoping her sweet and perfumed Stock flowers do well this year. What to do with the apricot-coloured ones? Why, go find yourself a plate of cream tarts!
Les Fleurs Franktown House Flowers, 819-459-3181 (find their flowers for sale at the Wakefield General Store). Ottawa Edible Flowers, 613-299-1796.