Lavender, What Is It Good For?

There's an entire Greenmarket stall devoted to it--and you can smell it from a block away.

Lavender is the most unloved of herbs. Apart from use in a minor role in a Provencale bouquet garni, it rarely sees action as anything but pillow stuffing. But does it have its uses? You bet, and they may be multiplying.

You can almost smell it through the computer screen.

Fifteen years ago, a Hell's Kitchen Argentine place named Chimchurri Grill made a splash by serving lavender flan. But I can't recall anyone saying they liked it.

Little bits of lavender (or even violet) candy are sometimes used by pastry chefs as decorations, but only cautiously, since the flavor tends to remind you of soap.

More recently, 10 Downing (now sadly closed) had a gin-based cocktail called lavender lemonade, and Café Sabarsky has a lavender-chamomile tea, but those are beverages and not dishes. It's easier to drink something with an overly flowery scent than eat it, even when your nostrils shout "Whoa!"

Boldy, the General Greene has a lavender sweet-potato mash advertised among its small plates in their Menupages listing - but it seems to have significantly gone missing from the current menu as represented on their website.

Is there anything great you can do with lavender? Well, Doughnut Plant proves there is. Their lavender donut is a wealth of subtle flavor, well-frosted and embedded with tiny lavender chips. Wolf down one of these donuts, and I guarantee you won't be thinking of soap.

Doughnut Plant
379 Grand Street

Donut Plant
220 West 23rd Street

Doughnut Plant's lavender donut: The trick to using lavender turns out to be extreme moderation, like saffron.

Take a look at last week's 10 Best Donuts.

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Location Info

Chimichurri Grill

606 Ninth Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Cafe Sabarsky

1048 Fifth Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

The General Greene

229 DeKalb Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Restaurant

Doughnut Plant

379 Grand St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Doughnut Plant

220 W. 23rd St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

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You can also use lavender in tea (as sold in Fairway's) and make lavendar cookies and sweets. :)