Garden cress is a succulent shrub with narrow peppery leaf vegetable with a somewhat bitter, but delicate mineral flavor earns it this name.  It is more commonly monk's beard, but also, Russian thistle, barilla plant, and opposite-leaf salwort.  A succulent, with needle-shaped leaves, it is indigenous to the Mediterranean and it was once collected for the making of ash and used in glass-making.  However, now it is prized as a culinary herb and tossed and seasoned alone or in salads and can also be baked in quiche. (It has a similar flavor to spinach.) Agretti's growing season is very brief and its seeds are only viable for about half a year.  In Italy, the herb "flies" from the produce stands days after it is available from harvest.  Traditionally, it is served with oil and lemon. Salsola soda, Latin for this cousin of samphire, is so prized, that it is considered as much a rare delicacy as truffles. 

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