Lavender has traditionally been used for soothing massages and as an antidote for sleepless nights. But it’s quickly becoming a culinary star. On Washington Island, a 30-minute ferry ride from Door County, Wis., diners are discovering how lavender enhances foods. At Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm, Shop & Le Petit Bistro's cafe, sweet and savory dishes incorporate this popular herb.
“Lavender is supposed to be an undertone when you cook with it and not the main flavor,” said Martine Anderson, who co-owns and operates the farm with her husband, Edgar, both former business executives. “I want people to say this is delicious. What’s in it?”
Born and raised in southern France, Martine Anderson dreamed of owning a lavender farm. Upon retirement, the Andersons moved to pastoral Washington Island and soon realized it shared similarities of weather and soil with Provence. In 2012, her dream became reality when 6,000 lavender plants were planted to start Fragrant Isle. In July, 14,000 lavender plants flaunted row upon row of purple blooms—just in time for the farm’s three-day Lavender Festival.
Lavender Good Enough to Eat
For most visitors, their first stop at Fragrant Isle's Washington Island location is the Main Store. It features Fragrant Isle's complete line of hundreds of luxurious lavender products and culinary specialties, from food to body butters, lotions and pure essential oil. All Fragrant Isle products are made with lavender grown at the farm. Food items include culinary lavender, lavender-cherry jam, lavender syrup and lavender scone mixes. There are also cookbooks.
The cafe menu invites adventure: lavender-glazed sugar cookies, lavender macaroons and muffins, and lavender desserts. An assortment of lavender truffles and vanilla ice cream are prepared with Fragrant Isle's culinary lavender oil. Beverages range from coffees, teas and a rosé wine slushy flavored with lavender syrup.