STW Challenge for May: Bring the Flowers (and herbs and other little touches)
3 May 2007

This month, let's focus on a styling technique... specifically garnishes. Little garnishes can make a simple scene elegant, but lots of garnish can quickly turn it into a chaotic mess. A garnish should always relate back to the dish, and help clue the eater (or the viewer) into some subtle flavor, aroma or color.
Herbs, of course, make great garnishes, if they are used in the preparation. Herbs should always, always be added at the last possible second because they wilt so quickly. I like to keep my herbs standing upright in a little vase or bowl of water, like they were bouquets of flowers. Room temperature is fine, but you want to pick the herbs or get them from the store the same day you are photographing them if at all possible. Fresh basil seems to be the most susceptible to going limp... if you can get "live" basil at the store (it's a single, small basil plant in a little ice-cube sized chunk of dirt), it will last you about a week and you can just pick off leaves as needed for the most perfect basil garnishes.

My most recent obsession are edible flowers. Only recently, I discovered that one of my favorite spring flowers, lilac, is edible. Flowers can be tossed on fresh for garnish of savory dishes. For sweet dishes, you will likely want to candy (or crystalize) the flowers, as many of them (lilac included) have a bit of bitterness fresh. Candying flowers is somewhat time consuming, detailed work, but it does yield great results. There's a good how-to on Martha Stewart.

Of course, garnishes don't have to be plants... icing details, a stripe of sauce, latte art, a perfect dollop of whip cream or even a silky ribbon are all great garnish examples. The usual rules and are up on the Flickr group... the things like be constructive, take the photos during the month if possible, 3 photos per person and the last day will be around May 31st, give or take a few days. We had a huge number of entries for Think Pink! Thanks to everyone who participated! I think it was a great round!

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