All Posts from June, 2016

Wild herbs come in the kitchens of Parco San Marco: discovering wild garlic

June 3rd, 2016 | By Paola Mazzo in Parco San Marco | No Comments »

Nature has given us the most beautiful gift of being able to work in a wonderful place, where the lake joins the sky and the surrounding mountains. In addition to the rich landscape, near Parco San Marco you can today still find, growing wild, herbs used in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes.

Celebrating the biodiversity of our region, we decided to introduce into our kitchens some of these aromatic wild herbs, which grow in particular in the woods around our garden and in the area of Lago di Piano, a few minutes’ drive from our resort.erbe-selvatiche-parco-san-marco (2)

Throughout the foothills of the Alps there is an abundance of valuable wild herbs which, in the past, were used for their beneficial effects in place of medications. Some herbs have therapeutic properties – in the form of an aromatic smell as well as a very pleasant taste – and, being rich in natural essential oils they therefore give dishes and drinks a particular taste. These qualities differ from spice to spice in order for them to be used in their fresh state, without needing to be dried.

Edible wild herbs are an important ssource for healthy eating for several reasons. They are a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals and are not the result of human selection but merely natural selection. Spontaneously arising where the conditions are optimal for their growth, and without being artificially influenced by man, these plants are extremely vital.

In the area of Lake Lugano and the Como, thanks to the particular climatic conditions and ideal altitude, you can find many species of wild herbs including: lovage, chives, sage, meloncello which is great in salads, summer savory (a relative of rosemary and thyme), dandelions rich in vitamin A and C, nettles that are ideal for risottos and soups, and wild garlic.

The wild garlic grows in moist and shady places, in particular close to rivers and streams.

 

Recognizing it is generally very simple thanks to its strong garlic smell, so strong that it’s noticeable from a distance. It has oval-shaped leaves which are not to be confused with those of the lily of the valley that are poisonous – but it’s actually hard to make this mistake, precisely due to its intense and unmistakable aroma of garlic. The edible parts of this plant are the young leaves that can be found before the plant begins flowering (the “old” and more are leathery) and also the bulb.

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In addition to flavouring recipes with its distinct fragrance, wild garlic also has some important medicinal properties. Well known as far back as the time of the Celts – who used the plant for purification and regeneration due to its properties as a blood cleanser and diuretic – its names “bear leek” or “bear’s garlic” (alternative terms for wild garlic which also include ramsons, buckrams and broad-leafed garlic) seem to derive from the fact that bears consume it in large quantities to restore their energy and cleanse the liver after the long winter hibernation.

The garlic can be used to prepare a pesto cream as well as a risotto. Here’s what you need to cook a great “Wild Garlic Watercolor Risotto from Lago di Piano” just like our Executive Chef.

Ingredients per person:
80 grams watercolour rice
10 g wild garlic

0.800 gr hearty veal stock leeks
30gr Valdobbiadene Prosecco
20 grams of goat cheese

 

Preparation:
In truth we do not want to reveal anything about the preparation. Come in stead yourself to taste it at our restaurant and, if you want to impress your guests and cook it at home, our Chef and his entire brigade will be glad to arrange a cooking class for you with aromatic herbs from Parco San Marco.

Written by Michele Pili, Executive Chef