I was really disappointed earlier this year when a Foraging and Dining Event that I had booked to attend with Robin Harford and Paul Wedgwood was cancelled at the last minute. Despite this I made my own First Foray into Foraging and as a result of a chance meeting at Taste of Grampian purchased the gorgeous Foragers Kitchen by Fiona Bird. I think I may be officially hooked.
I had tentative plans to attend the Crail Food Festival but my mind was made up when I saw there was to be a Coastal Foraging Walk with Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods. The four of us booked on to the afternoon session. Boy was almost as excited as I was at the prospect. When we arrived at the striped umbrella over the smoothie bike of The Fife Diet stall to register Mark was busy cooking up a wild food lunch for himself having found the queues too lengthy elsewhere.
Around 30 of us set off towards the beach to begin our foraging walk into the edible landscape and we didn't have to go very far before we came across our first find. I'm not going to even begin to attempt to tell you how to identify and what to do with all that we came across. Instead, where I can, I will link up to Mark's website which will provide you with a wealth of knowledge for each item.
The yellow hue of Wild Cabbage was spread across the banking alongside the beach. We all tucked into the flowers, seed pods and leaves. Plenty of Bramble bushes to be found too. This is probably the one foraged food that we are all familiar with and have no problem in identifying. Interested to find out that the young stems can be candied much like Angelica.
Curled Doc has a lemony sorrel like flavour when its not being used on a nettle sting. The pretty Ox Eye Daisy's leaves are edible and pleasant. The tips of the Sticky Willy (goose grass) are good to eat when young and tender. Dandelions and Nettles are also easily identifiable and edible. Boy and Girl loved Mark's nettle eating trick even if he did get stung in the process.
Really interested to hear of five different stages of eating for Elder. Another easy one to identify with its gnarled random trunk and to be found almost everywhere.
1. Green Buds
3. Green Berries
4. Black/Red Berries
Great to find that Plantain is useful for something other than playing soldiers. Apparently the leaves are much better to neutralise a nettle sting than a Doc whilst they and the flower tops have a mushroom like flavour.
The goose foot shaped leaves of the Orache had a moist salty flavour which I really liked. Mark's favourite wild vegetable next in the form of Hogweed. Not to be confused with the deadly Hemlock or its big brother Giant Hogweed.
The pungent mustardy flavour of Scurvy Grass is packed full of Vitamin C. The perfect plant for sailors to forage prior to a long trip at sea.
A couple of garden escapees up next. Strawberries and Rhubarb. Probably got there from being tipped out along with garden waste.
A much more controversial escapee which appeared to be making a takeover bid in the area was the invasive Japanese Knotweed. Very surprised to learn that this is edible as a young shoot. Perhaps if we all started foraging for it we could stop it in its tracks.
Last but not least as we headed back to the harbour a quick look at the slippery world of seaweed. Gutweed, Dulce and Wrack.
Back to the Fife Diet stall and we charged our paper cups with Elderflower Champagne as Mark cooked up a foragers feast. First off Hogweed fried in copious quantities of butter to accompany Lavabread with Smoked Mussels.
However the pièce de résistance was definitely the hand rolled wild food sushi. Not entirely sure what all was in there but there was pearl barley instead of rice and an abundance of foraged greens topped off with some beautiful flowers and a drizzle of elderberry vinegar. A work of art that was as good on the palate as it was on the eyes.