Herb gardens growing popular

DSC_0011Local restaurants have started a trend of delivering fresh, locally grown herbs to guests as part of the dining experience in Sun Peaks — with an enthusiastic response.

Restaurant chefs are utilising their patio space to grow a range of fresh herbs, including basil, thyme, oregano, mint, rosemary, dill, chives, and more.

“Our guests love it. They always comment on it,” says Darren Kashin, executive chef with Sun Peaks Resort Corporation. Kashin helped to develop the herb garden on the Mantles’ patio.

“One of our bartenders grows her own herbs at home, she suggested it to us and we thought it was a great idea. It has a little bit of everything in it and we use it every day,” Kashin says.

Powder Hounds chef Leif Ernst and Voyageur Bistro chef Annie Campbell agree.

“We get a lot of good feedback.” Ernst says. “Almost all our dishes benefit. We use the tarragon in our béarnaise sauce, we use the mint in desserts, and we also make our own herb sauce, which we use in many of our dishes.”

With an opportunity to create exciting variations on dishes, such as Campbells’ favourite, soup, it’s easy to get on board with this new trend. And according to Campbell, the fresh herbs are a hit among guests at Voyageur Bistro. “I think most people like having fresh, local ingredients, so having an herb garden right outside the door is pretty much as fresh and local as you can get.”

Similar to Mantles’ staff coming together to initiate the growing of fresh herbs, the crew at Powder Hounds wanted to come up with a way to better utilise their patio space.

“Nikki Kirton, who is one of the waitresses here, and I developed the idea from scratch. We wanted to do something useful with a little spot on the patio, and so we worked together — from the design, to the landscaping, to the planting,” says Ernst.

It’s no surprise local restaurants are being creative about the ingredients they use every day considering the distance suppliers have to travel to deliver products.

“Sometimes it can be hard to get a certain herb unless you order it in big quantities,” explains Campbell. “With our own herb garden I can just take a pinch of this and a pinch of that whenever I need it.”

Fresh herbs are not only coming in handy in the kitchen, but behind the bar as well, with fresh mint a popular addition to many drinks.

Ernst says the herb gardens added to the dining out experience in the mountain community. “If you go out for dinner in a city, how often do you see a restaurant growing its own fresh herbs right next to where you’re dining?”