Cilantro is the first thing to bolt–even in this cool, damp summer, it only took a few weeks before the flowers started appearing and the leaves thinned to feathery nothingness. Last year, I was disappointed at the change–no more leaves for the salsa–but this year I knew better. Because after the flowers come the fruit. And the fruit, in this case, is the coriander seed. Green, it bears little relation to the dusty brown balls packed by McCormack. It tastes green and lemony, slightly reminiscent of cilantro but without the soapiness. Early in the summer, I smashed about 1/4 cup of them and added honey, lemon and olive oil for one of the best grilled-chicken marinades ever.
They also make a lovely flavoring for vodka. This presentation is lovely but slightly deceptive; one little branch is not enough, in my opinion. I smashed lots and lots into a large bottle, then after steeping for a week I strained into bottles containing a decorative sprig. It’s great for topping off a glass of lemonade.