Another amazing weekend of Foraging and Wild Food in Aberdeenshire with the wonderfully knowledgeable and inspirational Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods. This is the third event that we've teamed up for and they just keep getting better and better. We had 40 folk joining us over the weekend, some of whom had been on our previous Dunnottar Woods or Spring Coastal Forage and others completely new. Some had been dragged along reluctantly by partners, others were chefs, foodies and outdoor enthusiasts. Lots of combined knowledge to be shared.
The location for our foray was Tollohill Woods overlooking Aberdeen. Despite being very close to my home I was completely unaware of its existence. The views it provides over the city are amazing. It's clearly very popular with dog walkers and families out for a weekend stroll. Hopefully we didn't upset too many folk by filling up the small car park with foragers.
Every walk requires some tasty treats along the way. Mark provided his famous Hogweed Seed Parkin and Hedgerow Fruit Leathers whilst I brought along Bramble and Apple Flapjacks and Crab Apple and Rowan Jelly Thumbprint Cookies. Recipes for both to follow at the end of this post.
Mark was as always slightly nervous about what we would - or wouldn't find - on our walk. It’s been an oddly dry autumn (though getting wetter by the moment!) so there was no guarantee what fungi we would find. Thankfully there was plenty of interest to discover although nothing in any huge quantity. Any gaps in between the mushrooms were filled in with edible and useful autumn plants.
We also indulged in some botanic booze along the way, some of which had been created in advance by Mark and myself and our own special 'Tollohill Tot' cocktail, the drink of our walk. Into the Cauldron (nitrous oxide infuser) went edible plants and berries such as brambles, dandelion, sweet cecily and sorrel.
Our halfway stopping point at the Tollohill Monument (In remembrance of the visit of H.R.H. Albert Prince Consort to this spot 1859) provided further spectacular views over the city. Time to snack on thumbnail cookies, hedgerow fruit leather, sloe gin and mushroom booze infused with chagga, chanterelle, cep and truffle.
We even dug up truffles on our foray. But before anyone gets too excited they were inedible deer truffles growing beneath the wonderfully named Snaketongue Truffleclub. We found the real deal in terms of Chanterelle along with is false counterpart. Contrary to popular belief the false chanterelle isn't poisonous but its taste will leave you sorely disappointed.
All too soon we were back at base camp in time for hot drinks, flapjacks and a browse through Mark's collection of fungi foraging books. Gas stove fired up he then cooked up a creamy Fungi Fricassee enjoyed on top of sourdough loaf. Porcini, Hedgehogs and Chanterelle were the stars of the show.
I bet Tom Cruise can't shake up a cocktail in the woods. With the Cauldron full of botanticals from our walk it was time for some magic and shaking. Not sure if our walk was all that tasty but with some clever additions from his bag of tricks Mark made it very tasty indeed.
The pink "Tollohill Tot" certainly looked more appetising than my somewhat specimen like Whin Gin. We'll definitely be teaming up next year for a Botanical Booze Forage. Fear not there will be no need to argue over who is the designated driver as we'll make sure its on a bus route.
Thanks to all who joined us over the weekend and a big thanks to the weather which was exceptionally kind. There are definitely more foraging events in Aberdeen/shire being planned for next year with Mark and myself. Spring Coastal, Botanical Booze and Autumn Fungi are the three most likely. Drop me an email if you want to go on the mailing list and be informed when places go on sale firstname.lastname@example.org or if you have any suggestions for locations or content we'd love to hear from you. Meanwhile enjoy identifying the reproductive organs of an invisible network.
Bramble and Apple Flapjacks
175g Demerara Sugar
500g Porridge Oats
Jar of Bramble & Apple Jam (or any jam/jelly of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Melt butter in a large pan. Remove from heat and add the sugar, oats, salt and cinnamon and mix well.
Place half the mixture into a greased on lined tray bake tin. Spread the jam over the base.
Carefully spread the remaining half of the oat mixture on top.
Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Slice, Cool and Serve.
Crab Apple and Rowan Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
225g Butter (softened)
150g Caster Sugar
1 Tsp Almond Extract
250g Plain Flour
Jar of Crab Apple and Rowan Jelly (Or any jelly/jam of your choice)
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
In a food processor (or large bowl) cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the almond extract and flour and combine to form a dough.
Roll the dough into 1.5" balls and place on a baking sheet. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the middle of each ball.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and use a teaspoon to indent the thumb imprint before filling the hole with jelly/jam.
Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes of cooking time.