What a fantastic way to spend the Easter weekend. Outdoors with Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods and 40 eager participants on our two Foraging and Wild Food Events. We headed to Skatie Shore on Saturday for Coastal foraging and Dunnottar Woods on Sunday for Woodland and Hedgerow. Luckily the weather was kind to us on both days, only a little drizzle on the Saturday and glorious sunshine on Easter Sunday.
Mark was armed with his trusty foragers kit bag and all the participants had duly heeded the advice of waterproofs, warm clothes, wellies or walking boots. Whilst supping Elderflower Champagne the format for the afternoon was outlined and a veritable abundance of edibles were identified and tasted within only a few yards of our meeting point. Pretty much all of which most of us would have walked straight past on any other day. Our voyage of discovery had begun.
As always with these round ups I refer you to Mark's website for the foraging know how and I'll just attempt to share a wee bit of what we got up to and give you a flavour of what we did, saw and ate over the two days. Competitive pignut digging was definitely a highlight as was the discovery that troublesome weeds such as Ground Elder and Japanese Knotweed were tasty edibles.
Many of the participants were particularly interested in the seaweed side of things. Risk assessment and simple common sense meant that 20 of us couldn't actually physically all go out clambering on the slippy wet rocks. Mark was however prepared with some 'here's what I forraged earlier' tasters. Such intense and unknown flavours. So difficult to describe. Like giving an artist a completely new colour.
All too soon it was time to head back and establish base camp. Teas, Coffees and Easter treats first, followed by cooking up some mouthwatering wild food. Common Hogweed fried in butter, Wild Garlic Hummus and a Barley, Smoked Fish, Smoked Egg and Wild Greens Risotto.
On Easter Sunday we had fantastic support from the local Bodging group based in Dunnottar Woods. Whilst we didn't need to make use of their tarp on this occasion were grateful for the access they gave us to their cabin, fire, general local knowledge and in particular their green woodworking skills. They also provided us with a very tasty slow cooked leg of venison. The perfect Easter Sunday roast.
One of our fist stops at Dunnottar, and the one I was personally most excited about was Birch Tapping. A wee bit of specialised kit required in the form of drill and spigots or spiles. Once the tree was tapped the flow of sap was instant and plentiful. The taste was however a bit underwhelming. I think I was expecting something akin to maple syrup.
Like many wild foods its what you do with it once harvested that makes all the effort worthwhole. In our case we used it as the base for the drink of our walk. Into the Cauldron (nitrous oxide infuser) went all the edible plants, sap and roots found along the way. It can also be used to make syrup, wine, beer and vinegar or drunk as a mineral water.
Following our 3 hour woodland and hedgerow wander down to the River Carron and the swathes of wild garlic it was time to head back to back to base camp to enjoy a foraged wild food feast in the sunshine. Venison and Smoked Chicken & Wild Greens Risotto were washed down with the tasty Cocktail of our walk.
As is always the case on our joint events there was plenty of edible and drinkable treats along the way. Below are links to some of them plus recipes for my Wild Garlic Pesto and Wild Garlic Pesto Pinwheels.
WILD GARLIC PESTO
100g Wild Garlic
75g Pine Nuts - toasted
75g Parmesan Cheese - grated
150ml Scottish Rapeseed Oil
Salt & Pepper
Wash and pat dry the wild garlic leaves, toast the pine nuts in a dry non stick pan and grate the Parmesan. Place everything in a food processor or blender and blitz until it reaches the desired consistency.
This recipe will make a larger quantity of pesto than you need for the Wild Garlic Pesto Pinwheels recipe. Store the remainder in a jar in the fridge or freeze in individual ice cube portions. Great stirred through pasta for a quick meal, served on top of lamb chops, steak or fish or mix some into a soup, risotto or mashed potatoes for a fresh garlicky kick.
WILD GARLIC PESTO PINWHEELS
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp wild garlic pesto
60g parmesan grated
Sieve together the dry ingredients in one bowl and milk and lemon juice in another.
Bring together by pouring the wet into a well in the dry.
Mix well and add a wee bit more flour or milk if needed to make a dough.
Knead lightly and roll out into a rectangle approx 1cm thick.
Spread over the pesto and sprinkle with 40g the parmesan.
Roll up like a swiss roll and cut into slices. Sprinkle with the remaining 20g of Parmesan.
Bake at 200 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
If you'd like to go on the mailing list to be informed about future foraging and wild food events with Mark and myself drop an email to email@example.com At the moment we're planning a Fungi Forage in October and hopefully a Botanical Booze Walk in the Summer.
Meanwhile why should the grown ups have all the foraging fun? If you've got youngsters who would fancy joining myself and Mandy from Mud Pie Adventures on a Wild Garlic Bear hunt there are a handful of places still remaining for our events in Dunnottar Woods on Sunday 3rd May.