This abundance of flowers was the impetus behind "In Full Bloom," the six-course tasting menu designed around edible flowers that he presented at the Garden last June; the occasion was a benefit for the hunger-relief organization Share Our Strength. On a second visit a month later, Tardi and his partner, Karen Bussen, the general manager of Follonico, re-created the menu and the alfresco festivities for F&W.
In his menu, Tardi uses every part of the flower: a sunflower seed crust for the lamb, a lily bulb julienne with the avocado, zucchini blossoms, lotus root--even cauliflower, the flower that isn't. The result is a diversity of tastes. The roasted sunflower seeds give a nutty flavor to the meat; the lily bulbs add a sweet crispiness to the avocado; the astringency of the elderflower concentrate balances the richness of the crème anglaise.
The flowers are pretty too. A plate spread with thinly sliced seared salmon becomes a canvas for colorful nasturtiums. But the pansy and nasturtium petals in Tardi's Petal-Printed Pasta aren't sprinkled at random--they're carefully pressed between paper-thin sheets of pasta dough to create a floral fabric. "It's almost like pressing flowers between the pages of a book," he says. "But the great thing is that as you're eating it you can taste their subtle flavors."