Seasonal eats: Chef Charles Part’s recipe for summer fruits in lemon verbena and mint tea

Photo courtesy of Les Fougères

It’s the season for luscious Ontario fruits like peaches, plums, blueberries, nectarines and strawberries, to name a few. Here’s a simple dessert to celebrate them from Charles Part, chef and co-owner of Restaurant Les Fougères in Chelsea, Québec. “Steeping Earl Grey tea with herbs from the garden and a little sugar produces a glorious light syrup that doesn’t interfere with the natural taste of the fruits,” he says. “At most, we sometimes add a spoonful of lemon sorbet.”

If you don’t grow any of the fruits or herbs the recipe calls for, look for them at farmers markets or at the Byward Fruit Market.

About Charles Part

Born and educated in England, Charles Part worked in restaurants in London and Paris before opening The General Trading Company Café in London in 1979 to rave reviews. He came to this country two years later, married Canadian Jennifer Warren and with his new wife, opened and operated the well-reviewed Loons Restaurant in Toronto before relocating to Chelsea, Québec.

Since its launch in 1993, Restaurant Les Fougères has garnered national and international acclaim, including the prestigious gold award in the Grand Prix du Tourisme Québécois in 2004. In the past decade, the restaurant has expanded to include a gourmet store that features Charles’ line of homemade, additive-free take-home foods (his products are also sold through retailers in the Outaouais, Montréal and Laurentian regions).  Les Fougères is also a member of Savour Ottawa and committed to local food and producers.

In 2008 Charles and Jennifer co-wrote A Year at Les Fougères, a collection of recipes and photographs that was awarded gold in the Culinary Culture category of the Cuisine Canada Cookbook Awards. In addition, it won a Gourmand World Cookbook award, an Independent Publisher’s silver medal and a Cordon d’Or.

Finally, Charles is a veteran of Ottawa’s Gold Medal Plates competitions, winning gold in 2008 and bronze in 2011.

Summer fruits in a lemon verbena and mint tea

Prep time: 20 min (+ 2 hours to cool syrup)

4-6 servings

½ cup sugar

4 cups water

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 orange, juiced and zested

1 vanilla bean, split

1 ½ tbsp loose Earl Grey tea

6 fresh lemon verbena leaves, thinly sliced or 1 tsp fresh lemongrass, minced

12 mint leaves, thinly sliced

selection of summer berries and stone fruits

Bring sugar and water to a boil over high heat.

Place remaining ingredients, except fruit, in a large bowl and pour hot syrup over them. Let seep until cool, then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

Dice fruit. Leave small berries whole. Place ½ cup of fruit in a shallow soup bowl and ladle 1 cup of tea over the berries. Garnish with a spring of mint or lemon verbena.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy summer fruit?

 

 

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