Midsummer in the Culinary Garden
August has arrived, and with it comes a whole new host of veggies from our culinary garden: tri-colored beans, gold and purple beets, cilantro flowers, cucumbers, and tie-die carrots to name a few. The “purple haze” carrots are harvested young before they turn fully purple, giving them their distinct tie-die coloration. The golden beets also have an impressive color display that reminds me of a brilliant sunset with their deep orange tops that fade in to bright yellow root tips.
One of the most interesting new crops in the culinary garden is the Perilla plant, which is a member of the mint family and native to Southeast Asia and India. Perilla, more commonly known as “shiso”, is traditionally used as a spice in both Indian and Asian cuisine. Shiso has a very distinct flavor; I find it earthy, minty, and slightly spicy with hints of licorice. The variety we grow has lovely leaves with green on top and deep purple underneath.
The tri-colored bush beans are also lovely to behold. These purple, yellow, and green string beans grow on low bushes and are planted in succession every few weeks to ensure a constant harvest throughout the summer. Our chefs serve these beans lightly sautéed and dressed in a whole grain mustard vinaigrette alongside the Atlantic Cod on The Lawn.
Broccoli, usually a cool weather crop, has continued to produce. This is a testament to the seaside climate that Castle Hill Inn enjoys. It is always a few degrees cooler here than on the mainland, and the result is that we get an extended season for our brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower and kale), as well as beets and snap peas.
Itty bitty cucumbers, with flowers still attached, are used by Chef Andy in The Dining Room’s summer squash panna cotta. The tiny fruit with its blossom looks much like a miniature squash, and is the perfect companion to the fresh greens, shaved garden radishes, and bright violas on the dish.
Up next we have green bell peppers, jalapenos, and husk cherries. The husk cherries will be ripe when their lantern-like casings become papery and the fruit inside turns golden. Husk cherries, also known as “cape gooseberries”, taste like a delicious mix of sweet melon, cherry and cherry tomato. Last year they were served as a brown butter and gooseberry jam with duck breast and I look forward to seeing what the chefs come up with this season!
Leita Lord, Horticulturist, Castle Hill Inn