It's hard to know where to start with my foray into foraging, and really do it justice - it was full-on from the moment we started, and yet wonderfully relaxed.
About twelve of us gathered to experience a Fat Hen foraging and feasting weekend in the far west of Cornwall, not far from my home. I was also joined by Kristina and her husband G, who'd travelled down from London - such fun to have another blogger joining in. Our day started with coffee and hogweed biscotti, followed by a demonstration of how to make halloumi cheese and ricotta, and home-baked soda bread. We then headed off for our first forage on the sea shore, with St Michael's Mount as the backdrop. We collected all manner of leaves for our lunch, and checked out the varieties of seaweed freely available below the tide line, and followed this with flasks of seaweed broth (delicious!) while sprawled on the rocks. Back to base for lunch, and a cooking demonstration with tips on how to make the perfect risotto, and a salsa verde.
Our meals were taken in The Goat Barn - a beautiful converted barn next to Caroline and Frank's home. Lunch was Alexanders Risotto, foraged salad leaves, and warm soda bread.
Our afternoon was spent on a different part of the coastline, at Gwenvor and Sennen, identifying more edible plants and seaweeds. We were met at the far end of the beach by Matt, one of our chefs, who cooked up a quick snack of black pudding and laver, accompanied by a fabulous japanese knotweed caipiroska (vodka caiprinha) on crushed ice. Yum! Back to the barns for more cooking - preparing potted rabbit, and home-smoked mackerel for sunday's lunch.
Our evening feast in the candle-lit and cosy Goat Barn kicked off with halloumi and pigeon breast appetizers, along with deep-fried seaweed (heaps better than your local chinese!), followed by pan-fried mackerel and salsa verde with potatoes. Dessert was a delicate carageen milk pudding with elderberry port wine sauce and fennel shortbread. Copious quantities of wine were also consumed!
Sunday brought slightly gloomier weather, but at least it stayed dry. We foraged in the surrounding hedgerows and farmland, collecting common sorrel, sheep's sorrel, gorse flowers, pink purslane, wood sorrel...and more. We stopped for hedgerow teas at Boscowan Un stone circle, sampling yarrow and meadowsweet. Back for lunch - fritatta, tortilla, various salads, fresh sea bass, potted rabbit and more.... I came home buzzing - from all the fun, the delicious gourmet food, the potential of foraging, the cooking tips, the fantastic location, and most of all the warmth, knowledge and generosity of Caroline and Frank, and chefs Matt and Claire.
If you would like to spend a weekend doing something a little bit different, and you love cooking and eating, and want to learn about foraging, then join Fat Hen for a weekend. I can't rate it highly enough!
There's also a great review here.