In an ideal world, this is how I like my foraged food to look. Spot the candied alexanders stem, carrageen-set panna cotta and wild fennel shortbread in this composition.
It is said to the point of cliche, but nonetheless true, that there is something about foraging for food that seems to tap into our most primitive instincts. Just the simple action of plucking a leaf from a tangled Cornish hedge and finding it tastes like wasabi or watercress or coconut – in short, something you would normally pay for – is unfailingly thrilling.
That probably says a lot about how darkly far we’ve come from the origins of our food. Still, there’s no need to go getting too primitive about these things, and that’s what I particularly like about Caroline Davey of St Buryan wild food school Fat Hen. On her courses, it’s not just about whether the plant is edible, it’s about whether it tastes good… and not just good, but really good.
Fat Hen’s most recent collaboration with Mick Smith, Australian executive chef of Porthminster Beach Cafe (aka the most perfect restaurant in the world), is an inspired partnership. Mick’s food is always creative, fresh, delicate – click to read my blog post ‘fresh and wild’ about it from a little while back. And Caroline, an ecologist by training, is the thinking man’s forager; you can expect to receive all manner of information on her wild food walks, delivered with wit, historical context and ecological authority, and a peppering of cooking tips. Go wild.
(Pictorial taster from last week’s course below.)
The new Fat Hen courses at Porthminster Beach Cafe cost £50 for a two-hour forage with Caroline Davey followed by cooking demos back at the Porthminster and a three-course meal accented with foraged foods. Next course is next Monday, 21st March, with further dates in November. Bookings at http://www.fathen.org