A garden with many aromatic plants used for Tuscan cuisine

April 18, 2014  |  Food & Wine  |  Comments Off

A bumblebee gathers nectar on Villa le Barone's rosemary Tuscany

A charming hotel with a large garden in Tuscany, where you can see and smell many aromatic plants and enjoy their fragrances in the authentic Tuscan cuisine that the hotel serves: this is Villa le Barone!

No garden without aromatic plants and herbs… and no good food without aromatic plants and herbs!  Known for centuries for their perfumes, their medicinal properties and their qualities as condiments in Mediterranean cuisine, aromatic plants and herbs were cultivated by the Romans and later on by the monks and nuns in the gardens of monasteries and abbeys. Many of them also grow wild along slopes and meadows.

You can recognize all these aromatic plants in the large garden and grounds of boutique Villa le Barone.  You can also taste their flavors in the Tuscan cuisine prepared by our cooks Fernanda and Edi.
In front of the restaurant, in the half shade under an olive tree, you will find some of the aromatic herbs we grow. Chives, with their light onion taste, are used in the omelets, in various soups and often to decorate the dishes that are served. Different varieties of thyme (lemon thyme and common thyme) are used, alone or with laurel and rosemary to add flavor to many meat dishes, poultry and soups such as the traditional «Ribollita “. Lemon balm attracts bees and is used, among others, to flavor fruit salads. Tarragon, also called “green dragon” (in Italian “dragoncello “) because it was believed it could cure snakebites, is used at Villa Barone to flavor soups…   Basil, grown in a pot, flavors sauces for pasta dishes, or the well known “tomato and mozzarella “salads.

Silver sage at Villale Barone Tuscany

There are about 70 species of mint, which readily hybridize with each other and we have chosen spearmint, softer, to perfume the Italian spring strawberries. There are also over 100 species of sage: in the small plants’ bed under the olive tree, you will find the common sage with narrow leaves which is used to flavor the “ravioli burro e salvia”. There are other types of sages to be discovered in other parts of the garden, such as the sage “berggarten ” with  broad leaves, the sage “pineapple ” with red flowers, so called because of its fragrance, the silver sage with its  large white very decorative inflorescences,. We make beautiful bouquets with them!   Rosemary, a typical Mediterranean plant that can be found in many parts of the Villa’s garden, is known and loved by its wonderfully aromatic piney scent and needle-like foliage. To touch it is to be perfumed by it. It has been cherished by cooks and apothecaries for centuries. Bees are feasting on their nectar blue flowers …
In a future article, we will talk about all the other aromatic herbs and plants that grow wild on Villa le Barone’s property and  that also perfume our Tuscan cuisine!

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