By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, near Pittsburgh, Pa., has a series of elevated herb beds built in a sunny spot near the golf course to serve the property’s nine kitchens. Given management obsession with quality and commitment to local, sustainable sourcing, it’s no surprise the resort’s more than a dozen chefs want access to just-picked herbs.
If you haven’t heard of the resort, you will soon enough. The owners are working to make it better known as a premier mountain resort. Most recently it served as a filming location for two episodes — June 7 and June 20, 2016 — of The Bachelorette.
“I feel that herbs are one of the most sensual things you can use in the kitchen,” says Kristin Butterworth, Executive Chef at Lautrec. Lautrec is one of only 25 recipients of both five-star and five-diamond ratings. And, it’s the only restaurant at this award-level overseen by a woman.
“Herbs are aromatic, delicate and can transform a dish by adding depth and brightness,” she notes. “Being able to grow fresh herbs right here is an amazing opportunity to be able to use the herbs at their peak which is right when they are picked. Walking through the garden every morning and taking only what will be used for the day is a chef’s dream.”
Pressed to choose a favorite herb, she names lemon thyme. “When it comes to herbs I am pretty equal opportunity because each type can elevate a dish,” says Butterworth. “But I’m partial to lemon thyme because of its uniqueness and how it can add the classic thyme flavor to the dish but also the brightness of citrus.”
Home chefs can learn from one of her techniques. “We do so much with herbs but my favorite would have to be oils. Basil oil, chive oil and dill oil can do so much for a dish to brighten it up and add a nice subtle herb flavor. Charring the herbs first in the wood burning oven and then infusing them in to oil creates such a unique flavor and helps to preserve the amazing flavor.”
In addition to chef hands, the garden is managed by Golf Course Operations.