(Serves 4 – Recipe courtesy of Chef Blaine Wetzel, The Willows Inn)
I don’t know about you, but whenever I gaze upon flowers, I never think Mmmm, that sure looks tasty. Maybe there are a couple exceptions—squash blossoms come to mind, especially if they are stuffed with goat cheese fried. And I suppose pansies, dandelions, and violets add colorful pop to my otherwise monochromatic leaf salad. But in these cases, the flowers are merely a vessel or a garnish for the real food, adding fancy but little flavor.
At least, that is what I used to think of flowers before I had this dish from internationally acclaimed chef Blaine Wetzel at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island (Washington). During one dinner service, I had the privilege of sampling over twenty different dishes, most (like this one), simply but expertly prepared. But this little dish I felt best showcased Blaine’s culinary resourcefulness and creativity. And it is so pretty! The flavor is perfumed, thanks to the rosehip oil, and delightfully light. It is a charming little dish, meticulously composed; the kind of dish that brings a smile of surprise to every diner’s face.
This recipe uses the delicately flavored salmonberries and Nootka rose petals because they are both native to the Pacific Northwest. But experiment; try using berries and edible flower petals that are special to the wilds around your home.
(Note: Three of the ingredients—simple syrup, verjus, and rosehip oil—are relatively easy to make at home. To make simple syrup, heat equal parts water and granulated sugar until the sugar dissolves, then refrigerate; verjus is simply the juice from pressed, unripe wine grapes; and rosehip oil can be made by soaking dried rosehips in a small quantity of any neutral flavored cooking oil—grapeseed oil is an excellent choice—for a few days. However, most specialty food markets will have these ready for purchase.)
6 ounces / 170 grams fresh salmonberries
32 perfect salmonberries
64 Nootka Rose petals
Dried rosehip-infused oil
Blend the 6 ounces of salmonberries on high until they are liquefied. Strain the juice through a super fine, flexible sieve, (such as a Superbag) and refrigerate for an hour. Gently pour the juice into a separate container, leaving any particles that have settled at the bottom of the first container. Season the juice with simple syrup and verjus.
Place four serving bowls in the freezer to chill. Arrange 8 salmonberries together in a circle at the bottom of each chilled serving bowl. Spoon in a tablespoon of salmonberry juice and arrange 16 rose petals on top of and against the berries. Drizzle with rosehip-infused oil and serve immediately.