A few months ago I was offered the chance to forage in a beautiful woodland; the owner proudly told me of the wealth of mushrooms I could gather there. My face dropped a bit. You see, I forage plants; give me a tree, i’ll turn it into a cake; a nut & I’ll make it into a liqueur; a bud I’ll make a pickle, I am in my wild element amongst stuff that photosynthesises & is full of chlorophyll, but mushrooms have always been an elusive stanger to me. What a shame, that woodland would have to go untouched.
But I shall play in the woods! my wonderfully brilliant foraging friend (and a bit of a gigantic wild food hero) Mark Williams from Galloway Wild Foods has been lured by my puddings to come down for the weekend in October & it would be wrong of me to not share him, his fungi genius & his amazingly inspiring wild booze know how with you.
Mark is one of the most respected and inspiring wild food teachers in the known universe; he also is very brilliant at teaching in a clear, safe way – if you’re a fungi novice like me this is for you; but his knowledge is so wide that if you know already your agaric’s from your boletus he’ll give you a depth of knowledge you didn’t know went so far down. Marks website is a well thumbed mine of information for foragers – take a visit & you’ll see why I’m excited to be hosting him in the Black Mountains! http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com
Mark & I are hosting what I think will be a pretty magical weekend; on Saturday we’ll be tip toeing in the woods finding the food he knows so well & we’ll all learn quite a huge amount about the mysterious mushrooms. On Sunday, we’re back on my turf & we’ll be leading a wild food / wild booze extravaganza. Cake and cocktails, and chocolate…
Tickets to this rare chance to learn from Mark are £75 for each day, but if you’d like to come on both days & have a wild (and slightly life changing) weekend then you can join us for both for £120. Never has just over a ton been so worth while.
Tickets for the Saturday & Sunday are available here: http://www.gallowaywildfoods.com/product/fungi-foraging-walk-nr-abergavenny-s-wales/ (Saturday)
If you want to come on both days, don’t book on the site, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your tickets (as I can apply your £30 discount)
See you in the woods!
We’re just over a week before Christmas & this is definitely the time for feasting on the good stuff. This is the time of year when our pots become very useful if you’re planning on conjouring up a few canapes to delight your guests with (or to hide away from your in laws & eat in a locked room) So if you have one of our little bottles or pots in your cupboard, dust it down, and dress it up..it’s time for Forage to party.
Jam & Cheese – We have a thing for Carmarthenshire made Mouldy Mabel cheese; it’s probably the closest thing you can get to Roquefort, just Welsh (which has to be a good thing) We stock up on Mabel on a regular basis from our brilliant Abergvenny Cheesemonger Marches Deli and thanks to them we eat her all year, but at Christmas she comes into her own in a filo pastry cup, or on a buttermilk biscuit & joined with our Sloe & Crab apple jelly (which has generous flavouring of vanilla & star anise) Mabel is transformed into the fairy at the top of the tree..(of course you can use any other jelly – when we’re not eating our own, love straight up crab apple jelly)
Sprout canapes. Yes sprout canapes.
Sprouts are a bit marmite – I think too many of us have had to endure over cooked balls of death as children. But low, they can bring joy & magic at Christmastide. Sprouts are part of that wonderful cabbage / mustard family & the little raw leaves taste peppery and horseradishy – making them ideal cups for smoked fish, earthy beetroot and goats cheese. I am lucky enough to have a local smoker Black Mountains Smokery who does amazing things to trout & I simply break up little pieces of oak smoked trout & pop them into the little leaves, and then drizzle them with our Rosehip & Horseradish dipping sauce ( you could use a chilli jam from someone like The Preservation Society instead). I promise you’ll love forget all your bad sprout moments in a mouthful.
Chorizo & chocolate
Our Damson & Chocolate sauce is rather essential in our house at Christmas. A couple of spoonfuls stirred into cream with toasted oats & a drizzle of whisky makes a pudding so indulgent it should be harder to make. Dolloped onto chorizo it makes an incredibly delicious mouthful – if you can get hold of Trealy Farms spreadable chorizo so much the better..spread the chorizo on sourdough, and adorn with the wild sauce. Ding Dong, your Christmases have all come at once. (If you don’t have our sauce you can use honey – just as delicious, just less chocolaty)
Stilton & Syrup
Christmas wouldn’t be right without Stilton. In fact it probably wouldn’t be worth having without it. We love the blue veined good stuff. Once upon a time I ate a mincepie loaded with stilton & I was forever ruined. Now I can’t get through a December day without a mouthful of stilton drizzled in our Spiced Rosehip Syrup. Laden with winter flavours, this is Christmas in a mouthful – medicine never tasted so good. (If you don’t have our syrup, and you should make an orangey syrup & infuse with a bag of mulling spices – it’ll turn you into a cocktail guru in one bottle as well)
It’s lovely when people wax lyrical about my products, sometimes people tell me the reason they’ve come to a food festival is to stock up on Forage goodies – it makes a small producer like me feel that the long nights standing in front of a bubbling pan is worth while, so please keep the nice feedback coming. I, as it happens have a producer who I sing romantic ballards about & I find myself evangelising about this little food business as much as my own….the apples of my eye are very special artisan producers Nick & Annette Tonkin. If I tell you a little bit about them. I think you’ll see why my heart is in Coedcanlas…
Nick & Annette are bee keepers, queen bee breeders, marmalade makers, food importers and quite frankly they would appear high on my list as fantasy dinner party guests – as long as they bought a few jars with them. For years they’ve been keeping bees and supplying queen bees to hives all over the place, including to other bee keepers who sometimes happen to make exceptional food in their home countries…Nick & Annette have started importing small amounts of these delicious finds & making these one off, beautiful products available to us lucky people. Sicilian grassy herby olive oil, lemon blossom honey and toasted almonds, Canadian maple syrup reduced over oak fires, and of course their own very special honey. They proudly run their business to complement their lives, and their love for what they do oozes from every jar & I’d love you to have one of those jars in your cupboard.