In upcoming editions of The Food Channel, we will present news and features gathered from the recent National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show. Our correspondent, Nicole Lierheimer, attended the show in Chicago.
One of the highlights of this year’s NRA Show was the opportunity to try champagne garnished with the edible Wild Hibiscus Flower in Syrup, offered by the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company, a small family-owned firm based in Australia.
Food Channel correspondent Nicole Lierheimer stopped by the Wild Hibiscus booth and sampled the exotic product. The procedure works like this: You start with a glass of champagne (or other sparkling beverage) and drop a Wild Hibiscus Flower in Syrup into the glass. As the flower slowly descends into the bubbly, you watch as the bubbles stream across the flower and the petals gently unfurl. You then consume the beverage, flower and all.
It makes for a rather dramatic scene, one that would be perfect at weddings, anniversaries, birthdays and other celebratory occasions.
p(right caption). Lee Etherington, founder of the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company
Coaxed into downing the cocktail by the charming Aussies at the NRA booth, Nicole reports that the flower tasted â€˜really good. It was a fun experience,â€™ she says.
The Flower from Down Under
The origins of the Wild Hibiscus Flower Company date back about ten years, when the Wild Hibiscus Flower in Syrup was â€˜discoveredâ€™ by accident at a lively Australian dinner party. Lee Etherington, a 21 year-old tour guide and a group of (admittedly tipsy) friends playfully dunked a crimson wildflower into a champagne flute. The flower slid gracefully to the bottom of the glass…and opened up…a whole new world of opportunities.
Etherington, who also owned a small food business, had previously used the flower only as an edible dessert garnish, but he sensed the business potential immediately.
The creation is now found in upscale bars, restaurants, and prestigious retail stores in 16 countries from the posh Dorchester Hotel in London, to gourmet grocer Dean & DeLuca in New York.
The flowers are grown in tropical northern Australia. The company explains that the fresh flowers are individually hand-picked, deseeded, cleaned and packed into jars entirely by hand at its factory in Kurrajong, in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
A jar containing 11 Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup (raspberry and rhubarb flavor) retails for $11.00 USD and can be ordered on the company’s website, or by phone at 800-499-8490. Retail locations include Williams Sonoma, many Whole Foods stores, Citarella (N.Y.), Metropolitan Markets (WA) and Central Markets in Texas.
According to the company, the product has a shelf life of two years from the date of manufacture. So, if you’ve got a celebratory event coming up in the next 24 months or so, and you want something a little extra special for your champagne toast, why not go â€˜Wildâ€™ with Wild Hibiscus flowers from Australia.