We always know when we're near the Eatwell Farms stand at any given farmer's market: A sudden whiff of lavender quickly balloons into a heady aroma. The farm's stand always carries dried lavender and a variety of products derived from it, but for a few weeks they now have it fresh. Alas, the season will probably have passed by the time the Pride Parade trundles down Market with that color on display among the rainbows.
We're more accustomed to lavender in our bath salts than on our herb racks, but of course the pungent member of the far-reaching mint family is a distinctive component in , the classic French blend that also features basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, and fennel. A touch of lavender can infuse lemonade, summer fruit desserts, or ice cream with its telltale aroma, and it has a natural affinity for honey (most lavender honey is made by infusing the sweet stuff with the herb, not from bees pollinating the plant). It should be used with discretion, however, or your final dish will smell like a boutique bath store.
Photos by Melissa Schneiderherbes de provence