Summer herbs marked the theme of our second supper club this month.
Linda Lezius and Carlotta Cramer-Klett, students of textile design, curated a menu inspired by herbs and their various qualities. The food was executed to delicious perfection by chef Benjamin Schmitt, who has cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants from Berlin to Paris, including Le Meurice. Diners were invited to come together for a special dinner that stressed rediscovery, mindfulness, and enjoyment.
Upon entering the Contemporary Food Lab stage on the warm summer night, we were treated to refreshing thyme cocktails chilled with herb-infused ice. The attention to detail was evident at the beautifully decorated table, where pots of herbs hung overhead and fresh herbs were at hand.
We were encouraged to add the various chopped herbs to the fresh local cream to be spread on the rustic bread. This allowed us to experiment with herbal tastes while challenging flavor combinations. The main stars of the evening proved to be peppergrass, starflower, fennel, parsley, and lavender, while chives, peppermint, rosemary, and melissa played supporting roles between acts.
Each herb corresponded to one of the five courses. Carlotta and Linda walked us through information about the herbs in an easy way. They even prepared notecards with tips to take home.
The sensory experience stressed touch, smell, sound, and taste. The fragrant burning rosemary cleansed the air between courses. A particular favorite for me was the lamb and parsley concoction combined with thyme. The interactive quality added to the meal, especially when we squeezed the lavender infused cream onto our strawberry, rhubarb, biscuit, and melissa dessert creation. I learned that melissa is not only an ingredient in Dr. Hauschka cream. We were even able to wash our hands with it in the little bowls provided.
The dinner was clearly made with love. Chef Schmitt’s mother, visiting from the South of France, even helped her son cook for the first time. The hosts succeeded in stirring curiosity for sometimes forgotten plants, bringing back awareness for their various functions, and finding appreciation for the powerful herbs that dot every-day life. We even got seeds to take home and plant, reminding us of roots, the past and present in the future.
Text: Jasmina Knezovic