Every morning at dawn, Norberto Piattoni brews himself a simmering mug of raw cacao, mushroom tinctures, ashwagandha powder, local honey, and goat milk. Though, the morning I’m visiting his Brooklyn home kitchen, he’s out of goat milk because ”it’s springtime and all the mom goats are feeding their babies,” as he explains, so we make due with water instead. Before you roll your eyes, consider that the concoction tastes like rich, earthy hot cocoa and feels like starting the day with a nourishing dessert.
“Elecampane grows like it tastes,” says Grace Galanti, owner of Furnace Creek Farm. “It’s very bold, it opens fast, and has such a strong flavor that it usually takes people time to like it.”
Galanti is one of a small group of farmers, producers, and chefs bringing this bitter but very-good-for-you herb (rhymes with “champagne”) into restaurant kitchens. Across the river in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Metta chef Norberto Piattoni is infusing it into a fluffy whipped cream that accompanies his ash-dusted sweet potato dessert. The dish is nearly sweet, slightly bitter, and absolutely delicious. Back in Manhattan, chef Angela Dimayuga of Mission Chinese Food is tinkering with a tonic made from honey-soaked elecampane and preserved lemon that we can only hope makes it to the menu soon.