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March 09, 1986|Robert Smaus \f7

The formal but productive herb garden at the Hotel Bel-Air provides the kitchen with the freshest seasonings. Where a lawn once grew, symmetrical raised beds now are filled with a variety of closely cropped herbs. Executive chef Joe Venezia supervises the hotel's kitchen and the garden, and few herb patches produce as much French tarragon and chervil. (They are his two favorites. Entire beds in the hotel garden are devoted to them.) Culinary tarragon, being clipped at left, must be started from cuttings, and though it grows naturally as a one- or two-foot-tall creeping herb, in the Bel-Air's garden it seldom grows higher than a few inches.

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