29 May 2014 at 3.46pm | Comment on this article
Herbfest makes a welcome return to Royal Opera House restaurants and bars this summer with a green oasis on the Amphitheatre Terrace, and intriguing new flavours in our food and drinks.
Once again we are working with the doyenne of herbs, Jekka McVicar, to show how easy it is to grow herbs at home and use them in cooking. This year our focus is on different varieties of popular herbs
Take basil, for example. We’re featuring the small-leaved, bushy Greek variety in a silky gazpacho with marinated cherry tomatoes, while we have chosen the clove-scented purple leaves of dark opal basil for our main course of roast chicken and ratatouille, our new fresh pasta dishes, and a flavoured oil to drizzle over Sussex Slipcote cheese and pickled baby vegetables.
The clean, strong spearmint flavour of Moroccan mint will feature in pea risotto, and in hollandaise sauce served with roast rack of lamb and Jersey Royals.
When it came to deciding on the type of rosemary best suited to Claire Clark’s caramel oranges recipe, we considered a range of options. In the end, we rejected the pine scent of Sudbury Blue, the light flavour of pink-flowered rosemary, and the strong stems of Barbeque Sky – it was the familiar common rosemary with pale blue flowers, as seen in gardens all over Britain, that came out top.
You’ll find a few tasty curiosities on our summer menus too. Myrtle is most commonly used in the cuisines of Sardinia and Corsica but we’re giving it a British spin by using it to pickle beetroot to serve alongside roast beef and horseradish. If you’re a fan of the light aniseed taste of fennel in Mediterranean cooking, don’t miss our apple and fennel tart tatin, which Claire Clark designed specially for the new production of Guillaume Tell.
Our bars are joining Herbfest with red basil lemonade – the perfect non-alcoholic summer tipple – and an invigorating rosemary gin and tonic.
If you’re joining us for a drink or meal on the Amphitheatre Terrace, please visit our herb garden and enjoy the plants' distinct fragrances. We hope you’ll agree they are a lovely summer complement to the views over Covent Garden piazza.
Royal Opera House Restaurants serve a variety of menus inspired by the productions on stage. Find out more about our menu options.