garden party

May 20th, 2010


With the weather warming up, it’s time to head to the farmer’s market to indulge in the season’s finest locally grown produce. But what happens when we eat out? With the growing trend of on-site herb and vegetable gardens, restaurants and hotels are turning over a new leaf and guests are reaping the benefits with fresher food, straight from the garden.

North America

NoMi at Park Hyatt Chicago

In the middle of bustling Chicago, NoMi has created a garden sanctuary. Its lush landscaping sits on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt, affording diners dramatic views of the city. At night, soft candlelight makes this urban oasis the perfect spot for sharing small plates and sipping carefully crafted cocktails. With summer coming up, NoMi has created a tomato-inspired menu with dishes like BLTs with vine ripened tomatoes and caprese salads with colorful heirlooms.

Chef’s pick: Composition of Heirloom Tomato with buffalo mozzarella, shallots, and Chianti vinaigrette.

TOPPER’S at The Wauwinet, Nantucket MA

Along with savoring the delectable cuisine of Chef David Daniels, guests at TOPPER’S get an extra fresh flavor note from the herbs gathered in the chef’s own garden. Chef Daniels keeps a plot of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme growing right outside The Wauwinet.  Diners who opt for the more casual TOPPER’S Deck get a primo view of Daniel’s little Eden, so they can be assured that the seasonings are fresh and those basil leaves resting atop the spaghetti pomodoro were just plucked from their stems moments before.

Chef’s pick: Simple Spaghetti Pomodoro, with chili flakes and fresh basil leaves.


Strawberry Hill, Blue Mountains, Jamaica

This 50-acre mountain top resort in Irish Town, Jamaica, originated as an 18th century coffee plantation.  Today, the resort still boasts extensive gardens and orchards yielding copious fresh produce daily. Aromatic varieties of mint are used at the Strawberry Hill Living Spa, and lemongrass and basil spice salad dressings and teas. Bananas, pineapples, mangoes, and other local fruit grow on the property, giving guests a variety of fresh produce.

Chef’s pick: Strawberry Hill Jerk Style Lamb Rack, with lamb reduction and a guava glaze.


Victoria Jungfrau Grand Hotel & Spa, Interlaken, Switzerland

Between the luxurious ESPA and the outdoor tennis courts lies a garden replete with all sorts of herbs. By mid-May, this chef’s garden supplies the hotel restaurants with coriander, lavender, basil, sage, and others, including edible blooms like fiery red nasturtiums. Torsten Goetz tends to the garden, making sure all of those delicious flavors flourish and make it to the kitchen to spice up the chef’s cuisine.

Chef’s pick: Saddle of Irish lamb with Indian spices, “Cama di rapa,” sweet and sour mango pearls, and lightly smoked lamb jus.


Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa, South Male Atoll, Maldives

Imagine eating dinner while the wafting aromas of lemongrass and hot peppers float in the air. Now imagine this garden in paradise. At Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa in the Maldives, guests can do just that with the addition of a new chef’s herb garden. A lone hut stands among Thai, Indian, and Maldivian chilies, wild rocket, Chinese cabbage, and other edible greenery, so locavores can rejoice in the fact that herbs and veggies are no more than a few feet away, bringing new meaning to “farm to table”.

Chef’s pick: Tom Yam Pho Teak, a spicy seafood soup with fresh lemongrass and hot basil. 

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa, Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand

The organic vegetable garden at Anantara Golden Triangle supplies the restaurant and on-site cooking school with fresh produce year round. The resort also organically cultivates its own rice paddy, and the rice harvested is entirely consumed at the property. Showing its green thumb, Anantara Golden Triangle uses natural fertilizer on all its crops, courtesy of the resident elephants.

Chef’s pick: Thick, creamy chicken curry, filled with herbs and spices such as sweet basil and kaffir lime leaves. 

Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa, Changlang Beach, Trang Province, Thailand

At Anantara Si Kao, the herb garden holds a world of local flavors. Somewhat common names such as lemongrass, Thai basil, and chili grow next to the more exotic hot holy basil, galangal, and kaffir lime. No idea how to use them? Take a Thai cooking class – each class starts in the garden, gathering herbs for the recipes. Also check out the weekly Market Night when vendors from the local Trang Market set up stalls on the resort grounds and sell their wares, including local produce, vivid spices, and even the famous Thai street food (safely prepared in the resort’s kitchens so you don’t have to worry).

Chef’s pick: Pla Nueng Si Hio, steamed seabass fillet with ginger, garlic, chili, and light soy.

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