Hi everyone! Ross here. It’s great getting a chance to speak to you all. Simon has handed over the blog reins to me so that I can tell you all about our foraging trip last week.
One of our suppliers, Fresh Direct, invited a team of us from the Road Hole Restaurant to join them for a foraging class. We drove to Callander where we met Andy and Dick from Fresh Direct and a group of chefs from restaurants around Scotland. Together, we headed out along a quiet country road.
One of the first plants we found was hogweed, it grows in big clumps of large leaves and would easily be mistaken for a weed. However the stem is edible and very tasty. It is important that you cut the stem before it matures as it quickly becomes bitter. Martyn had never tried cooking previously with hogweed so he brought some back to the kitchen to try. Similar to asparagus, hogweed tastes great blanched with a little butter and seasoning: ideal for a fish dish. I have added a video on YouTube of Dick finding and picking hogweed.
As we walked further along the road there seemed to be edible plants everywhere we looked! We came across wild strawberries, though a little too small to eat; wild garlic, which I’ve used many times in the Road Hole Kitchen; and wild peas, they don’t look like peas but the small leaves and purple flower have such a distinctively fresh pea flavour. I collected a small bundle of the wild peas to add as a garnish to my pea panna cotta. I loved the fresh citrus flavour of wood sorrel which will taste fantastic in a fresh summer salad.
Walking on a little further we found a patch of pignuts, surprisingly, a common sight on a country road. Andy showed us how to dig up a pignut. We had to be careful as the roots travel underground and break easily making them a little tricky to find and dig up successfully. If you are lucky enough to find a pignut intact then you can scrape off the outer layer to uncover a white nut with an almost chestnut flavour. I plan to use the pignuts in a dish with foie gras. Although pignuts are prolific in some areas I wouldn’t advise collecting the nuts in large quantities as the process can be quite disruptive to the land. If you do think you would like to give it a go yourself I have posted a video of Dick identifying and digging out a pignut.
I would like to thank Fresh Direct for a great day of foraging. It was really inspiring to see all the fantastic ingredients growing on a country lane. Our morning foraging gave me so many ideas for new dishes, and I can’t wait to introduce them to you. If you would like any more information on any of the produce or serving suggestions please do get in touch.