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LavenderAny of you going to the Abergavenny Food Festival this year? You are? Excellent!

If you come to the Market Hall at 3pm on the Sunday then you’ll see me and Karl Cheetham from the Gliffaes Country House Hotel on the stage, cooking and talking about both food and books; at the time of writing we’re not entirely sure what we’ll be making but we know exactly which Welsh-grown ingredient we’ll be using…..lavender.

Now then. Lavender originates in Mediterranean climates but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s as much a part of our garden landscape as, say, roses*, dahlias * and lilac* (The scent of lilac! Sublime!) And yet all these plants are not actually native to the UK at all but were brought under mind-blowingly tricky circumstances by the great plant collectors of a bygone era, whose voyages changed the face of our country in so many ways.

If you have lavender in your garden, it’s more than likely to be the angustifolia variety which, as it happens, is one of the nicest to cook with. If you’re not sure, simply squeeze the lavender to release its oils and have a good old sniff. If it smells a bit ‘soapy’ then it will taste that way too, in which case the ‘less is more’ rule applies.

The simplest way to use lavender is to take a 200g bar of top-quality dark chocolate; the best money can buy comes from Black Mountain Gold, naturally.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and eat a quarter of it. Then melt the rest in a Bain Marie, being careful not to splash any water into it. Then take just 2 lavender flower heads, crumbled into tiny pieces, and add to the chocolate. Once mixed thoroughly together, pour the chocolate into a thin layer onto a silicon baking sheet or a baking tray covered in grease proof paper and leave to set. If you can access some edible gold leaf, scatter a few pieces randomly on the surface of the chocolate as it sets. Ensure you give this stuff only to your very best friends.
For more recipes using common garden plants (including lavender) you can pick up a copy of my latest foraging/gardening/cookery book, The Garden Forager, from your favourite indie bookstores, Book-ish in Crickhowell and The Hours in Brecon.

* The Garden Forager will tell you where these plants really come from!

Adele Nozedar
Illustration by Lizzie Harper

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