Le Suquet Laguiole - FRANCE
Lagardelle, a secret garden
Situated just a few kilometres from Laguiole, Lagardelle is a tiny hamlet with a great deal of influence on the Bras cuisine, bearing witness to their passion for the vegetal.
The secret garden of Michel Bras where, aided by two gardeners, Jean-Luc and James, he often spends several hours a day looking after a collection of plants to make a botanist jealous! Consequently, Sébastien Bras has at his disposal an incomparable gastronomic repertoire from this verdant library, which resembles a conservatory of edible plants, where over two hundred different specimens of plants are grown, all sorts of shoots, stalks, roots, vegetables and fruit trees.
Both of them often bring back some seeds from their travels, in order to try a few experiments. Holy basil (ocimum tenuiflorum), a sacred plant with a thousand virtues, was brought back from India. The cuttings of Sansho (zanthoxylum schinifolium or prickly ash tree), which produces berries with a lemony flavour and a finish which provokes a slight prickle on the tongue, were the result of a visit to the restaurant in Toya. Tomatillo Verde (physalis philadelphica) for a touch of acidity, Oca (oxalis tuberosa) from Peru, Houtyana (houttuynia cordata) or Rau-ram (persicaria odorata or Vietnamese coriander) from Vietnam with its mint flavour which perfumes the stocks, Mertensia (mertensia maritima) with its blue/green leaves with an odour reminiscent of the iodine in oysters, virtually all the continents and tastes are to be found here. Of course, there are also many local species as well, such as the Valeriana Phu, abandoned by the side of the road, which has now found a refuge close to the greenhouse.
The edible flowers, numerous in springtime, do not overshadow those destined to decorate Le Suquet, patiently cultivated and selected by Ginette Bras, filling the vases with colour and embellishing the tables.
This tranquil garden becomes a hive of activity early in the morning when the early risers amongst the brigade descend on it from Le Suquet in order to harvest the fruits of such patient labour; a choreographed routine, silent and respectful, ensuring that the produce reaches the plate in optimum condition.