On a recent weekend escape to the Blue Mountains I found myself ambling up a path beset on both sides by rosemary bushes. The smell from them was heavenly, filling the air with thoughts of lamb and halloumi and garlic.
I watched a bee bounce from rosemary flower to rosemary flower- the bushes were thick with them- and realised I'd tasted one of the small purple blooms.
Stepping away from the bee's work zone, I picked a small flower and dropped it into my mouth.
Rarely is trying a new ingredient for the first time so overwhelmingly positive. The combination of floral perfume and familiar rosemary notes harmonised perfectly with each other, neither overpowering or cloying. There was no bitterness, no tang, and it melted in my mouth.
The single flower filled my head with flavour and aroma, and conjured a thousand applications. Savoury, sweet, even cocktails.
I ran to the car, grabbed a small box and, leaving plenty for the bees, picked a dozen or so tiny flowers.
Back in my Sydney apartment, I started experimenting. My first application was simple- I scattered the flowers over a lemon sorbet accompanying fresh honeycomb- but also utterly perfect. This was, to put it horribly, the essence of the air around a rosemary bush.
I'll be grabbing rosemary flowers whenever I see them from now on; there are so many applications I can't wait to try. I want to make a light salad of pickled spring vegetables and grilled lamb fillet. I want to make a chocolate and rosemary flower tart. Pea, mushroom and lemon risotto scattered with rosemary flowers...
Ultimately, though, I just want to remember that sometimes it's not enough to just stop and smell the flowers. Sometimes you have to taste them too.