Dry Lavender Soda
Have you heard of the Dry Soda Company? They produce a line of relatively low-sugar, interestingly-flavored sodas. Currently, their flavor line-up includes Juniper, Rhubarb, Lavender, Vanilla Bean, Kumquat, and Lemongrass.
Angela and I ran into these at our local food co-op, and we were intrigued. We ended up picking up a four-pack of the Lavender to try it out. I've since seen them elsewhere around town. Their website has a tool to find locations where Dry is sold, but I know it is incomplete since I've seen it sold two places that aren't listed.
The ingredient list on the Lavender flavor is minimalist: purified carbonated water, cane sugar, natural extracts, and phosphoric acid. The taste is very clearly lavender. If that appeals to you, you'll like it. I was personally expecting something a bit sweeter than it was, but I do, in fact, like lavender so the taste grew on me once I got over my initial surprise.
With such a distinct flavor, the lavender soda begs to be put to other uses. I first thought about food-soda pairings. Once I looked at the ingredient list, though, I started thinking about the soda as the sum of its components: it is a slightly sweet, somewhat acidic, lavender-flavored carbonated liquid. I realized that this is something that I could use as an ingredient.
So I did.
My first thought was to use it to make a batter for fried chicken, using the framework of a beer-battered chicken recipe. I decided to go with something lighter, though, that would showcase the flavor more.
I took chicken thighs, and browned them in my big cast-iron pan with some butter. Then I added some chopped carrots to the pan, 2/3 of a bottle of the lavender soda, and topped the chicken with some fresh parsley and sauteed onions. I put the whole thing into the oven on a braise. I added a bit of dried thyme and rosemary, too.
When the chicken was done, I took the braising liquid, carrots, and about half the onions, and tossed it into the blender. I was half-afraid that I would end up with something reminiscent of soap, but the resulting sauce was light, smooth, and subtle. It definitely tasted of lavender, but the flavors had melded beautifully.