Some daisies in your soup, sir? Yes, please

<!--StartFragment--> <strong>A</strong>NYONE for cheese-stuffed tulips, salad with rose petals or violet creme brulee? If it sounds odd or just plain wrong to eat flowers rather than just ogling them from a distance, think again. The Chelsea Flower Show marks the beginning of a period in which the city&rsquo;s best chefs turn to flowers to spruce up seasonal menus. Of course, it&rsquo;s a gimmick, but there&rsquo;s really no reason why we shouldn&rsquo;t eat flowers. They add a delicate sweetness to dishes and always look lovely.&nbsp;<br /><br />How does it all taste? Pretty good. Last week I went along to Launceston Place in Kensington and tried some of chef Tristan Welch&rsquo;s flower dishes.<br /><br />Ricotta and spinach ravioli with wild garlic and its flowers was perfectly harmonious &ndash; the garlic flower was delicate and slightly sweet. Then there were assertively fresh-tasting broad bean flowers that went a treat with champagne-poached salmon. The chive flowers that came with a melting braised beef and broth-marinated tomatoes added a subtle oniony sweetness. &ldquo;Chive bouquets are beautiful,&rdquo; enthuses Walsh. &ldquo;The flowers are so versatile, but work especially well with meat because they&rsquo;re quite pungent.<br /><br />&ldquo;The great thing about flowers is that they taste like they smell,&rdquo; he enthuses Walsh, who is extending his menu beyond Flower Show week and will be cooking with them (mostly from vegetables) throughout the summer. &ldquo;In the case of vegetable flowers, the aroma of the veggie goes into the taste of the flower to very unique, summery effect.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>PROVENCAL FIELD<br /></strong><br />Veggie petals &ndash; such as pea, broad bean and garlic &ndash; work especially well in gourmet menus as they carry strong, recognisable but delicate flavours. Sometimes they even intensify the taste of their related vegetable &ndash; cucumber flower, for example, is &ldquo;stunning served with mackerel&rdquo;. Welch is also partial to nasturtium in salads; &ldquo;because it tastes a bit like watercress&rdquo; while tulips go well with poached scallop, and home-made elderflower cordial is heavenly with strawberries and champagne, as well as &ndash; of all things &ndash; foie gras. Finally, the lavender panacotta was unbelievably refreshing, like eating the smell of a Provencal field in summer, in cool cream form.<br /><br />Professional foragers provide edible flowers to restaurants but with the likes of broad bean, garlic and chive, you can find them among your own crop or &ndash; in the case of garlic flowers &ndash; almost anywhere in the countryside. If you don&rsquo;t grow your own vegetable garden or marigold patch, then here are some of the best places to tuck in to the tastiest of Britain&rsquo;s flora.<br /><br /><strong>LIGHT BAR</strong><br /><br />at St Martin&rsquo;s Lane Hotel, 45 St. Martin's Lane, WC2N 4HX&nbsp; <!--StartFragment--> Flowers aren&rsquo;t just to be eaten &ndash; they work awfully well in liquid treats too. There&rsquo;s no better place to enjoy flower-inspired cocktails than the uber-boutique St Martin&rsquo;s Lane Hotel. Try the Scottish Blossom: pear puree; hibiscus and fennel syrup falernum (sweet spiced syrup); Glenfiddich 12yrs and fresh lemon juice, topped with soda. Or there&rsquo;s the Flower Power Mojo Muddle: Daisy&nbsp;flowers; white sugar; lemon juice; white rum.<br /><br />Chelsea Blush Muddle contains basil leaves; half&nbsp;a mandarin; Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka; Camomile tea syrup and comes&nbsp;garnished with a lily flower. &pound;13.50 each<br /><br /><strong>LE CERCLE</strong><br /><br />1 Wilbraham Place, SW1X 9AE From the same chic and snappy family as Club and Cellar Gascon, Le Cercle does a winning and perfectly balanced Gallic flower menu in&nbsp;honour of Chelsea. Expect spring salad and rose petal vinaigrette; violet-scented coley with piquillo; roast guinea fowl with verbena; and violet&nbsp;creme brulee and apricot.<br /><br />&pound;17 for three courses; 19-23 May<br /><br /><strong>CINNAMON CLUB</strong><br /><br />30 Great Smith Street, SW1P 3BU<br /><br />This bastion of fine Indian dining is going&nbsp;all-out with an aromatic, extravagant but well balanced floral feast.<br /><br />Cleanse the palate first with a hibiscus&nbsp;and rose petal bellini followed by essence&nbsp;of tomato with chicory and rocket flower.<br /><br />Next comes grilled asparagus with kadhai spices; yoghurt and chive flower kebab;&nbsp;crisp zucchini flower with tamarind vegetables and elderflower and anise sorbet.<br /><br />To top it all off is a rose petal and milk&nbsp;carom seed crumble with sweet cicely&nbsp;jelly.<br /><br />&pound;60 per person; throughout May<br /><br /><strong>ROUSSILLON<br /><br /></strong>16 St Barnabas Street, SW1W 8PE<br /><br />One of the top French restaurants in London, this Pimlico jewel has a much-loved menu that pays homage to the nearby Chelsea Flower Show that showcases executive chef Alexis Gauthier&rsquo;s love of all things soil-born. The full flower menu is yet to be released, but it will feature plenty of violets and roses. Other treats include open ravioli of purple and green watercress; chrysanthemum souffle and wildflower biscuits.<br /><br />&pound;65 per person; 19-23 May<br /><br /><strong>ALAIN DUCASSE</strong><br /><br />at The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA<br /><br />This titan of French haute-cuisine is launching a season of floral macaroons in honour of Chelsea. Pastry chef Angelo&nbsp; Ercolano has opted for a beautifully colourful and exotic range that includes rose and raspberry; orange blossom; lavender; jasmine and&nbsp;coco and verbena and lime.<br /><br />The macaroons are served as part of a&nbsp;new lunch menu. Two courses including&nbsp;wine and tea/coffee start at &pound;39.50 <!--EndFragment--> <br />&nbsp;<!--EndFragment-->