Nature is full of surprises. Among them: the Artemisia arbotanum or garden sagebrush, a small plant with an aroma reminiscent of ... coca-cola!
Never heard of it? Fine Dining Lovers explains all with the help of Christophe Hay, chef of two Michelin starred La Maison d'à Côté in Montlivault, France.
Several hundred square meters of garden stretches out below Christophe Hay's restaurant located near Chambord, where his gardener Alain Gaillard takes care of the cultivation of fruit, vegetables and plants using permaculture.
It's here that the duo chose to grow garden sagebrush to stock the pantry at La Maison d'à Côté. "It's a plant that usually grows in rocky areas in South of France."
There are different varieties of sagebrush: the classic, which looks like absinthe and has a pronounced bitterness; there is also lemongrass mugwort and of course cola mugwort, which we discovered at a plant festival in Cheverny ", explains Christophe Hay. "The first thing that strikes you is that when you rub this little plant in your hands, is that it smells of cola candy. I found it surprising, it reminded me of my childhood. So bought our first shoot which really adapted to our land, " the chef goes on to say.
The garden sagebrush is indeed quite easy to cultivate since it's an annual plant which ca support frost and cold climates, before resurfacing in spring. "You just have to cut it a bit like rosemary and thyme", explains Christophe Hay.
How to cook with Armoise Cola?
"What is difficult with sagebrush cola is its bitterness," says Christophe Hay. "This plant has notes of thyme, it's also quite resinous, so it is necessary to make infusions at a fairly low and short temperature, because the higher the temperature and the infusion time, the more the bitterness increases."
Thus, the chef advises infusing the cola sagebrush at 60 ° C for 5 minutes to bring out the notes of cola and freshness.
"We plant the plant in the liquid, cover it, let it steep for 5 minutes and filter, like a tea," explains Christophe Hay.
"We can then use this to make sorbets, a coulis, but also a gravy. I like, for example, to combine sagebrush cola with game birds or poultry."