Up, Close & Personal with Lavender
The two Lavender Goupies are ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ flavours and are very different from each other. Their inspiration came directly from Caroline Alexander of The Hop Shop in Kent, who asked us if we would create a Lavender Goupie that they could sell in the farm shop.
The Hop Shop is based at Castle Farm just outside Sevenoaks, where many acres are given to growing several varieties of lavender, largely used for the production of Lavender and Lavandin essential oils.
To celebrate the harvest in late June and early July the farm holds a Lavender Festival when visitors can learn more about the process of growing lavender on a commercial scale and the production of the essential oils. They can also enjoy a massage in the lavender fields or even exercise their yoga moves!
The Goupie team created four Lavender Goupie recipes – two using white chocolate and two using dark chocolate – and took them to the first weekend of the festival to see what the visitors thought. Two clear winners emerged – fortunately one dark and one white chocolate version – and during the following week we went into production, not only making batches of the new varieties, but also producing labels using photography we had taken in the spectacular lavender fields. By the next weekend the new Lavender Goupie varieties were being sold at the festival, and have continued to sell well and gather a bit of a fan club.
We use the Hops Shop’s Lavandin Essential Oil in our Lavender Goupie with Dark Chocolate as we feel the flavour of this oil goes best with chocolate. We also produce Lavender Discs for the shop, which are hand-piped discs of our favourite fine Belgian chocolate flavoured with Lavandin Oil.
For our Lavender Goupie with White Chocolate, we use just lavender flowers to give a very subtle floral note that complements the white chocolate without overwhelming it.
Lavandin Essential Oil comes from a variety of lavender called Grosso, which is very high yielding and has camphorous qualities that come through the rich flavours of Goupie and the intensity of the dark chocolate. In Goupie it leaves a pleasant after-taste; not too dissimilar to ginger.
To make the oil the Castle Farm team have to harvest the Grosso Lavender flowers at just the right time, using a special cutter. These are deposited straight into a large container that can be sealed and become a part of the distilling process. The flowers then go immediately to the distillery where steam is forced through them to extract the oil. The steam is then condensed so that the oil and water can be separated before the oil is bottled ready for sale.
Visitors to the Lavender Festival at Castle Farm can take a guided tour of the lavender fields and see how the distilling process works. The Hop Shop itself is open all year around and the perfect place to buy local produce – including apple juice and beef produced on the farm – as well as a myriad of lavender products .