As co-owner of Charleston restaurant Cannon Green and owner of local flower shop Stems, Anne Bowen Dabney is a true believer in the power of plants—both as main course and muse.
As co-owner of Charleston restaurant Cannon Green and owner of local flower shop Stems, Anne Bowen Dabney is a true believer in the power of plants—both as main course and muse. At Cannon Green, she and chef Amalia Scatena incorporate flowers into every aspect of the restaurant—cocktails, salads and entrées as well as table decor. Here, Dabney and Scatena share 10 unexpected ways to eat flowers and decorate with fruits and vegetables.
1. Borage flowers have a refreshing cucumber taste, making them a great pair with seafood, such as raw oysters or crudo dishes.
2. Mildly flavored violas work well in salads and desserts. They’re an excellent pair for citrus flavors, like Meyer lemon cake, or as a garnish for gelato.
3. Spicy nasturtium leaves and flowers can hold their own when served alongside grilled steak.
4. Rose petals are refreshing and fragrant but not overpowering, making them a pretty and mild visual accent when mixed into salad greens. Red petals have a stronger flavor than white and pink blossoms.
5. Uncooked pea tendrils add interesting texture to salads and a nice contrast to creamy cheeses like burrata.
6. Sweet pea blossoms complement spring dishes made with English peas, like chilled soups.
7. Pansies and violas make beautiful, edible accents to spring cocktails like white sangria or Champagne-based sparkling drinks.
Decorating with Produce
1. Short produce without a stem, like strawberries and blackberries, can be threaded onto grocery store-bought bamboo skewers to add texture and color to flower arrangements.
2. Sprigs of herbs in bouquets give off fragrance to echo the flavors of the meal. Some plants, like mint and rosemary, will even grow new roots to be planted in the garden after the meal and used again in the future.
3. A cluster of asparagus in a shot glass makes an interesting and unusual centerpiece, especially when repeated in a row down the center of the table. A small bunch of asparagus (or handful of cranberries) can also hold a single blossom in place.