Everyone knows about “farm to table dining”, but what about “potager to potable” drinking?
Step into a fabulously French world of backyard gardens, barge cruises, and very cherry cocktails!
Combining the practicality of the English vegetable plot with the sophistication and style of French fashion, a “potager” (translating to kitchen garden) is a backyard garden incorporating fruits, vegetables, and herbs with flowers, trees, and other ornamentals to create a space both functional and festive. Because a potager is planted and grown specifically for the household’s needs, these adorable gardens come in all shapes and sizes, adding to their rambling charm.
Along the Canal du Midi in southwestern France, potagers offer seasonal produce during the entirety of the barge cruising season from early spring to late fall. The barge Saraphina gently glides along this antique inland waterway, where owner-operator Chef Emily Campfens offers her lucky passengers the best in culture, cruising, and, of course, cuisine.
Exclusive to the Saraphina’s onboard dining program, guests are served an array of garden-fresh salads, savory side dishes, and delicious drinks, all crafted with ingredients Chef Emily proudly grows herself on her local property’s potager.
While her history did not foretell that she might become a successful horticulturist (“I’ve been known to kill mint,” she laughs), Chef Emily has proved a fast learner and natural gardener. “We now proudly harvest asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, courgettes, apricots, cherries, and many many more,” she enthuses. “I’ve always wanted to cook with local, organic, and fresh produce, and now I am literally picking a tomato to be eaten there and then.”
One of the yummiest goodies grown in Chef Emily’s potager are Morello cherries. Picked when ripe between the months of April to August, these tart stone fruits star in Saraphina’s onboard culinary experience, which of course includes craft cocktails!
“When life gives us cherries, we make cherry jam, cherry clafoutis, and cherry-infused spirits, all from our potager’s cherry tree,” Chef Emily says.
One of her favorite drinks to serve to Barge Lady guests is called The Potable Potager. Made from gin which has been slowly infused with the delicious Morello cherries from her potager and then topped off with tonic water and fresh lime juice, this tantalizing and tangy drink is then served to taste over lots of ice. Chin-chin from Barge Lady Cruises for the barge Saraphina, Morello cherries, and The Potable Potager!
Many thanks to Chef Emily who shared her special recipe for The Potable Potager, a marvelous mixed drink served exclusively by, for, and on the barge Saraphina!
CHEF EMILY’S THE POTABLE POTAGER
- Two generous cups of cherries (any kind but Morello or sour cherries work well)
- 3 cups gin
- ¾ cups caster sugar
- Large Mason jar
- Tonic water to taste
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Place the unpitted cherries in the Mason jar
- Cover cherries in caster sugar
- Pour in Gin of your choice, ensuring cherries are covered by the liquid
- Seal and put in a dark place for six weeks, turning the jar three times a week
- Once the liquid is pink the gin is infused
- Mix the infused gin with tonic water to taste
- Pour over ice and top with a squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Sip The Potable Potager while cruising the Canal du Midi on the barge Saraphina!