The vegetable garden at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons is certified organic, and they use green manures as part of their planting plan. When I visited, most of these had been dug in to prepare the ground for spring planting, but the field beans were still standing.
Raymond Blanc’s philosophy is to use as many parts of the plant as possible. Field beans are related to broad (fava) beans, and are often used as cattle feed – because the beans they produce aren’t very nice. However, they do produce good flowers, and lots of them, and these are used in the kitchens.
In fact, they served them as part of the vegetable course during the lunch after our tour. For those of you who have never thought about eating broad bean flowers, I can confirm that they have a subtle, beany flavour. They look nice on the plate, and could be added to salads. And you get to appreciate their scent, which most of us don’t bend down to smell in the garden. But remember that the more flowers you munch, the fewer bean pods you’ll have later!
Explore other parts of the garden at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons: