Our newly landscaped garden and grounds had just completed its first growing season when Executive Chef Ken Nakano arrived. The new design included a kitchen garden with diamond shaped garden beds for herbs and edible flowers, but after a year of growing we had discovered great growing spots all over the grounds that inspired us to think creatively about what edible plants we could grow. Together with our gardener, Chef Nakano filled this year’s kitchen garden with possibility, creativity – oh and plants too.
Throughout the year you’ll find edibles coming into season in a variety of locations around the property. The bulk of our herbs are located in the same area, however not all of the edible plantings are there. We thought having corn growing right where most of our wedding ceremonies take place might not be the backdrop couples are looking for at their waterfront wedding, so we’ve planted that (and the purple cauliflower) in places that make sense for the plant and for us. You’re welcome. Soon fruit trees like fuzzy kiwi, yuzu and sudachi will be planted and Inn grown kiwi fruit should be part of our continental breakfast in the next 2-3 years (good things are worth the wait). We’re excited to start using sudachi, a Japanese citrus, in a variety of ways. This fruit is not juicy like a lemon or lime, but is used more for its oils and zest which makes it an ideal ingredient behind the bar, and perhaps more traditionally with grilled meats.
With a food and beverage program as large as ours it’s hard to believe that we’ll incorporate the garden into our menus – how could we possibly produce enough? Well, we can’t. But that’s not stopping us from using our own ingredients in our catering menus, in Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio, in Inn Room Dining, and our Inn at Home program. When the season for one thing ends, something new will be coming available, allowing us to always have something homegrown featured.
Gardens have a great way of bringing people together and forming a community as well. The entire culinary team has a role in this. They’re out daily picking what they need for service, weeding, and coming up with ideas like “how to serve cucamelons?” – we couldn’t help ourselves! Who doesn’t want a miniature watermelon that tastes like a cucumber fresh from the garden on their salad? The team has suggested other plants that we could grow and so far we’ve included Aunt Molly’s ground cherries, bergamot, turmeric, currants, buckthorn, rainbow beets, and Hakurei turnips to name a few. Every week, something new emerges in the garden and we look forward to sharing more about our plans for the sudachi and cucamelons as they ripen.