Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did

I love strawberry picking.


It's one of those quintessential childhood memories – piling into the car with family and friends, tumbling out in a screeching gaggle, excited to see row after row after row of beautiful strawberry plants, scalloped green leaves revealing lush, red berries… spreading out across a few rows, mums together, kids finding their own corner… everyone laughing, chatting, giggling and picking fruit… competing over who's picking the biggest berries or who is the fastest to fill their punnet… and later, smeared in sticky juices, making our tired but happy way back home again clutching our precious baskets of fruit.

And then, over the next day or two, helping my mum make the most delicious strawberry jam from the fruits of our fun. (I couldn't bring myself to call it a labour!)


At university too, there was a pick-your-own farm just down the road from the campus. Better still, they had an honesty system – when you took your strawberries to the till to be weighed and paid for, a small note asked you to make a guestimate and contribute towards the berries you'd eaten whilst you picked. I loved that, as it meant I didn't feel guilty about popping berries as I picked … I'd even be willing to bet that most pickers over- rather than under-estimated their consumption.

I have picked strawberries now and again, in the intervening years, but must confess that back, hip and knee problems make crouching and crab-walking along the ground difficult to manage for more than a few minutes at a time.

Last year, just too late for the strawberry season, I came across a recommendation for Parkside Farm in Enfield. Mention of their table-top strawberry system appealed hugely and I bookmarked the site, checking on it regularly these last few weeks, waiting impatiently for the strawberry season to arrive.

Finally, on the last Saturday in June, off we went… me bubbling with excitement, just as I had when I was a child. The farm was busy; families with kids of all ages playing hide and seek between the rows, an elderly couple taking their time to select only the most perfect fruits, four middle aged friends striding purposefully from the entrance, people of all ages, speaking many different languages but sharing the delight of picking one's own…

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So, what about the table-top system? What can I tell you? I'm an absolute convert! Strolling comfortably along the rows of waist-height troughs of healthy plants, their ruby red fruit hanging so easily in reach, takes away the pain but without losing any of the pleasure I remember so fondly.

(Pete, being 6 foot 6 inches tall, still has to slouch just a little, but for the rest of us, the strawberries are at just the right height).

What did I do with our 4 kilo harvest? Strawberry jam, strawberry ice-cream, strawberry vodka and, of course, fresh strawberries and cream!

The quote in the title, by the way, is by William Allen Butler, a 19th Century American lawyer, poetical satirist and travel writer.


Win a Soreen T-Shirt

Are you a little bit, or maybe a whole lot of a bit, addicted to Soreen's fruity malt loaf?


If you'd like to win this sweet Soreen T-shirt to wear to your next session of the SAA (Soreen Addicts Anonymous) or perhaps as a gift to the lady Soreen addict in your life, why not leave me a comment below letting me know about your food and drink addictions, Soreen or otherwise?


I'll pick a winner from all comments left before July 15th 2010.

The T-shirt is a Fruit Of The Loom, Lady Fit Large. The competition is open to UK residents only.


Monday, 28 June 2010

Guest Post: Alex English Visits Morston Hall

Once a fellow food blogger, now in the ranks of professional food writers, stylists and cooks, my friend Alex English has kindly written a guest post for Kavey Eats. Enjoy!

After an exhausting five weeks training at Ashburton Cookery School, the husband (who I'd hardly seen for over a month) and I decided that a break in the country would be perfect for a bit of rest & relaxation. There's something special about country house hotels. Secluded, discreet, and utterly, utterly relaxing, they're the perfect place to unwind if you're short on time (and, er, fairly long on cash). Morston Hall is no exception. I've been a fan of Galton Blackiston for a while, and his North Norfolk bolthole with Michelin starred restaurant has been on my most-wanted list for some time.


After making the three hour journey up to Morston, we had a few hours to relax in our spacious garden suite before getting dressed for dinner. There's no dress code at Morston Hall, but as we discovered when we headed to the conservatory for apertifs, the clientele is generally of an older persuasion and jackets and ties are pretty much the norm for men.

Glasses of champagne started at £6 and helped the amuse bouche of crab soup with sweetcorn puree slip down nicely.

We then started on the menu proper. Morston Hall has one sitting and a set menu of four courses plus coffee and petit fours. Personally, I like this way of dining - I will eat anything and it's kind of fun to have a surprise menu that takes away the decision making hassles. If you have allergies or a fussiness problem then the kitchen will swap in alternatives.

Our starter of Madeira stewed wild mushrooms with poached hen's yolk, cauliflower puree and jellied mushroom tea was umami rich and delicious, although the jelly ended up melting everywhere and we wished we had more bread to mop it up with.

Next up was a grilled fillet of wild sea bass with pork belly on wilted water cress, bitter lemon dresssing and confit zest. The bitter lemon dressing was the perfect foil to the moist fish. Pork belly turned out to be more of a bacon crisp rather than the thick chunks I had imagined, but it was great to have a fish dish with bold, punchy flavours.

The main course of roasted rib of Blickling Hall Aberdeen Angus with braised skirt, oak smoked mashed potato, sauteed spinach, shallot confit, fine beans, Norfolk asparagus and rich beef jus (what a mouthful!) really was the star of the show. The oak smoked mash was a genius combination with the beef, and I grilled Galton about it when he did the rounds later in the evening. Apparently baked potatoes are infused with oaky flavours in the on-site smokehouse (used for the breakfast kippers). Keen smokers can try it at home by making the mash first and smoking it in a double boiler. One for the weekend maybe?

We were now faced with the choice between dessert or cheese. I went for the sweet option - a dreamy raspberry, vanilla and coconut soup with mango sorbet and a floating island (poached meringue, in case you were wondering). Hubby chose the cheese plate, with particular highlights being the parmesan-esque Old Winchester, Perl Las and Binham Blue (made just up the road at Wells-Next-The-Sea).

After coffees, teas and delicious petit fours - passionfruit truffles, a white chocolate and apricot thingy and honey madeleines, we were off to bed, not forgetting to order our smoked-to-order kippers for breakfast the next morning. Morston Hall isn't cheap at around £300 a night for two (including breakfast and dinner), but it's a great place to get away from it all and with food this good and surroundings this pretty you end up feeling refreshed and ready to head back to the big city.

Morston Hall, Morston, Holt, Norfolk, NR25 7AA

A selection of Alex' photos of the food at Morston Hall:

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Saturday, 26 June 2010

See Food & Eat: Abel & Cole Fish + The Billingsgate Market Cookbook

As regular readers know, I've reviewed a number of products from Abel & Cole over the last year, from fruit and vegetables to dried fruits and nuts to chicken, beef and lamb. Most recently, I was invited to review some of their fresh fish produce, which was perfect timing after our recent day at the Billingsgate Seafood Training School.

Although most of us still associate them with organic fruit and veg, Abel and Cole also offer a great range of fish, from haddock, pollock and whiting to sardines and mackerel to salmon and trout to more specialist fish such as john dory, lemon sole, sea bass and guilt head bream. And then there are the various smoked fish and fish cakes not to mention the crab, scallops and squid.

Here's what I was sent and how I found it:

  • Cornish Pan-Ready Mackerel (390 grams, £3.89, £9.97 per kg)
  • Flaky Roast Smoked Salmon (160 grams, £5.75)
  • Monkfish Fillets (375 grams, £13.92, £37.11 per kg)
  • Sea Bass Fillets (£12.15)
  • Seafood and Eat it White Cornish Crab (100 grams, £4.99)

Cornish Pan-Ready Mackerel

Sold in pack sizes of approximately 350 grams (ours was just over) and priced at £9.97 per kilo mackerel really are a great value fish for every day eating.


For us, the pack of three smallish fish was awkward – we cook for two and 3 fish on the bone aren't well-suited dividing between two people! I understand Abel & Cole have reviewed all their pack sizes recently, but it's the pack size alone that would stop me ordering this again.

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We used a simple marinade recipe (of dark soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and fresh ginger) from the The Billingsgate Market Cookbook before barbequeing the fish on our brand new (rather spiffy) new barbeque. Absolutely delicious, great quality, very fresh. We served it with a simple cucumber salad, lightly pickled in salt, sugar and a little white wine vinegar.

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Flaky Roast Smoked Salmon (160 grams)

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The roast smoked salmon was very nice – we enjoyed it with a fresh tomato salad. But whilst it was pretty good, it wasn't as good as the incredible kiln roast salmon by J Bennett that we found at the Billingsgate Fish Market (and which MarkyMarket has sinced sourced more of for us).


Monkfish Fillets

There were three monkfish fillets in the pack, of variable size. This wasn't such an issue as next time, I'll likely cut them down further into large cubes of fish and either cook on skewers on a BBQ or in a curry or bouillabaisse.

This time, we marinated them in a ready-made spice mix I was given ages ago, and shallow fried, as per the spice packet's instructions. The spice-mix wasn't great and certainly not suited to being used as per the instructions, would have been far better in a slower-cooked curry dish.

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However the fish was perfect and, if I couldn't get to a local fishmonger (I like to look and choose, not to mention have more control over volume) I'd certainly be happy to buy this from Abel & Cole.

Sea Bass Fillets

We used another recipe from the The Billingsgate Market Cookbook for the sea bass fillets (of which there were five in the pack, of variable size). We baked the fish with garlic, lemon juice and zest, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil).


It was fresh and delicious – the simple recipe really enhanced the natural flavours of the fish.

Seafood and Eat it White Cornish Crab

I was also sent two 100 gram pots of cornish crab meat (white only). You can also buy pots of just brown meat or potted crab with butter, white and brown meat mixed, both of which are less expensive than the white meat, as you'd expect.

I had plans to use the crab in a pasta dish but came home from a long-running PR event having eaten only a handful of canapĂ©s since lunch time. It was nearly 11 pm – too late for me to consider cooking. So I ate a pot of the crab meat straight from the fridge.

Really, really fabulous with not a single scrap of shell and some lovely large chunks of meat as well as the usual tiny white flakes. Sweet, fresh, delicious. But I do think £4.99 is a lot for just 100 grams.

Overall, I was certainly impressed by quality, freshness and taste. But I found some of the pack sizes awkward to use, cooking for two. I do realise fish come in different sizes, so it must be hard to standardise pack sizes. Shopping in person, I can see the size of whole fish or fillets available that day and choose to buy one or more for each diner. I know this isn't possible when ordering online, but it does mean I'm much less likely to buy my fish this way, even though I know it's sustainable, which is important to me.

The The Billingsgate Market Cookbook is currently available from Amazon for £11.89, usual retail price £20.


Les Peches Plates

The first time I came across "les pĂȘches plates" (flat peaches) was in France but I've since come across them here in the UK, now and then.

They are also known as doughnut (or donut), Saturn and even UFO peaches!

I bought these tasty beauties at the local newsagent/ grocer at the top of my road on Thursday!


Friday, 25 June 2010

Pete Drinks: Fuller's 2004 Vintage Ale

Name: Fuller's 2004 Vintage Ale

ABV: 8.5%

Bottled/ Draft: Bottled

Bottle Conditioned: Yes

Bottle Size: 500 ml

Price: Approximately £5

Colour: Rich Brown

Clarity: Like a muddy pond

Head/ Bubbles: Surprisingly good head for a bottle beer, with fine bubbles

Mouthfeel: On the thicker side

Taste: Not very hoppy, a syrupy sweet maltiness, just a touch of bitterness towards the end. A slight warmth to the taste (like pepper or spices but without those flavours). Can tell it's a strong beer, but it doesn't taste as strong as some with similar ABV. A nice note of bitterness in the aftertaste.

Comment: This is not a beer you'd want a pint of - it's a little too strong. As such, it's not really an every day beer. But it's a great choice for a special occasion, or where you're looking for a beer to relish and take your time drinking.

Additional Info: Fuller's Vintage Ales are crafted by their head brewer, John Keeling. Since 1997, he has carefully selected and blended malt, hops and yeast for this annual, limited edition beer. Because the beer is bottle conditioned, the yeast left in the bottle matures and changes the beer slowly over time. The 2004 vintage uses Goldings hops and Maris Otter malt.

The best place to buy a range of those vintages still available is the brewery's on-site shop in Chiswick.


Introducing Kavey Eats, Pete Drinks

Pete is definitely the drinker in our household.

I don't drink much, myself. Not that I'm against drinking, or even worried about it from a health perspective. It's just that I don't like beer. Or wine (with the exception of the very sweet stuff). I do like some drinks of course - dessert wine for a start, or a glass of syrupy PX; a refreshing Pimms is an essential part of summer; I can't resist sweet, colourful cocktails - an umbrella and maraschino cherry make them even better; and I'm quite a fan of sickly sweet liqueurs from Amaretto to Amarula , from Midori to Tia Maria. Oh, and vodka, I quite like that too, especially the vintage Russian stuff I’ve recently been introduced to. But a distaste for beer and normal wine (as opposed to the sweet stuff) means that I seldom drink during meals and have become quite used to sticking to the softies. To be fair, this isn't a big deal, I drank so much as a student it's a wonder my brain survived - though there are those who might argue it didn't, entirely! This goes some way to explaining why this blog has been all about the eating.

So back to Pete.

He very much enjoys red wine, has a big soft spot for Scottish malt whisky, especially from Islay, and he loves a good beer - especially real ales (he's a member of CAMRA). For ages, he's been muttering about blogging some of the beers he's been drinking. Being realistic, he admits he'd never maintain a blog of his own but I've suggested he provide guest posts for me here on Kavey Eats and he’s agreed.

And so, I'd like to introduce a new series on Kavey Eats which will appear under the heading "Pete Drinks".


Pete will be sharing his feedback on a wide range of beers from all around the world. I suspect a few wines and whiskies may also creep into the mix too!

These posts will appear in the main Kavey Eats RSS feed.


Thursday, 24 June 2010

Natoora Fruit and Veg Box

Some time back I was offered Natoora's Spring Box for review.

(I know this post is a little late, given that the box arrived in late May, but it took us a little time to use the contents and also coincided with a really busy period for me, food blogging wise, with lots and lots and lots of restaurant reviews, events, cookery book reviews and more to write and post!)

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I have to say that we were genuinely shocked when the box arrived. We really couldn't believe the huge volume of packaging for the small selection of fruit and vegetables inside! I knew they would be using a courier for delivery, rather than their own distribution network, as we fall outside the area they currently cover themselves. But still, we were taken aback. I went back to Natoora and asked them about it as we do try to reduce the amount of waste we produce, as a household.

They replied:

For London deliveries where we use our own drivers and vans and have more control we use simple brown paper bags. For deliveries by courier as you rightly presumed, we need to protect the produce more. We have tried to reach a middle ground between being able to keep the products fresh and intact whilst in transit and using the minimum amount of packaging. The components of the inflated liner and the ice packs make sure that the produce is kept fresh. The liner can be deflated and put in the bin and the cardboard box recycled. We decided on the liner because…

  • In production just 4% of the raw materials are required for the liner versus the equivalent Styrofoam packaging that would be needed to send your order
  • Before inflating the freight and warehouse space required for the liner is just 10% of that required for Styrofoam
  • Landfill is significantly reduced

Well, OK.

But I'm still keener on the packaging used by some of their competitors. For example, Abel and Cole use (much smaller) cardboard boxes for their fruit and veg (and styrofoam boxes for meat, fish and dairy) but, more importantly, they encourage customers to return boxes from previous deliveries to their delivery drivers when they drop off the next box, and they re-use the packaging as many times as possible before it disintegrates. Whilst I can see that their styrofoam boxes require more initial warehouse space, I also like how they are used many times, before being relegated to waste.

Being economical (both financially and environmentally) about waste doesn't just refer to reducing the volume and ensuring the materials are recyclable – it also means making the best use of packaging and insulation in the first place, before discarding it as rubbish.


Anyway, on to the contents of the selection box. I found them a little variable.

  • The strawberries and potatoes were excellent. Proper, wonderfully flavoursome strawberries, the very best of what this fruit can be. Decent, fresh and tasty new potatoes too.
  • The tomatoes ripened well on the windowsill and they too were then a good example of this quintessential salad fruit.
  • Many of the pea pods contained grossly underdeveloped peas, which meant that the overall volume, once the entire bag was podded, was a very small serving indeed. But those we had were good enough.
  • The asparagus was disappointingly woody, though apparently other reviewers sent boxes within the same 2-3 week period enjoyed theirs much more.
  • The loquat were somewhat battered but I enjoyed them, having never tasted this fruit before.
  • I passed the green leaves on to my mum, as we were running out of time to eat them, before they were past their best.
  • I'm afraid I had no idea what the sticky stalked greens were as there was no information included within the box whatsoever. Natoora responded that most customers would already have read the full list of contents on the website before buying, but I still think a single sheet listing the contents would be useful. Apparently the sticky green things were bruscandoli (wild hops).

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Whilst the spring box is no longer available, Natoora are offering a fruit box, a vegetable box and a mixed fruit and veg box. If you're a Londoner, in the area they currently deliver to themselves, it may be worth giving them a go – if you do, please let me know how you get on both in terms of quality of produce and volume of packaging!


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Wild Garlic Part 2: Ramsons Flower Tempura

In Wild Garlic Part 1 I shared my first wild garlic foraging and cooking experience, using the leaves of the ramsons plant (allium ursinum) as stuffing in a roast chicken. That was at the beginning of May. Near the end of the month, Pete and I spent a lovely long weekend down in Dorset, planned around attendance on Mat Follas' foraging course.

Driving along the pretty, narrow, winding lanes of this corner of rural Dorset I was struck repeatedly by just how prolific wild garlic is there. Vast numbers blanket grassy verges in swathes of green and white. Driving with the window open means an almost constant whiff of pungent garlicky goodness. Given the abundance, it amazes me that we associate garlic with French cooking, and not with food from South West England!

During the weekend, we both enjoyed dishes based on wild garlic at Mat's restaurant, we picked and munched on fresh, raw flowers and stems during the foraging course and we inhaled it's scent during each car journey we made.

At Mark Hix's Lyme Regis Oyster & Fish House, I even had deep fried ramsons flowers in my starter, though I didn't yet know that ramsons = wild garlic and didn't make the connection.

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So much of wild garlic was there in the area that I decided to forage a big bag of it just before we returned to London. In the country corner we chose, I carefully collected a carrier bag full of flowers on their long, crunchy stems and when I turned away and back again, I couldn't even spot a gap in the thick carpet of flower heads.

Having very recently seen a recipe for elderflower tempura (and influenced by the Hix starter too) I was eager to tempura my bounty of fresh flowers.

We haven't made tempura before so checked a few recipe books and followed a very basic recipe, though next time I'll aim for a thinner batter and use carbonated water, which we didn't have in the house.

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With their long firm stems, it was easy to dip each flower head into the batter, transfer it into the hot oil and lift it out to drain afterwards.


We enjoyed the flowers with some absolutely delicious grilled bacon from Denhay Farms, who we visited during our weekend trip. It was a perfect light meal which summed up our little trip.


Monday, 21 June 2010

Mat Follas' Foraging Course

You might remember from my interview with him last year that Mat Follas, winner of Masterchef 2009 and chef proprietor of The Wild Garlic restaurant, came to cooking only recently. His love for cooking grew out of his love for scuba diving: just a few years ago, he found himself bringing home lots of hand-dived scallops and crab but not really making the best of them. His wife booked him onto a day's course at Rick Stein's and it all grew from there. Mat's passion for delivering great food remains inextricably tied to his determination to use locally sourced produce, a fair amount of it dived and foraged for him by small-scale local providers.

I had been wanting to go on a foraging course for a couple of years and have been looking into the many courses available for a long time. Some were simply too expensive for what they offered, others had only a few dates available per year, none of which suited and another still looked fabulous but I knew that 10+ hours is simply too long a day for me – I just don't have the stamina!


So when Mat mentioned his new foraging days a few months ago I booked two places immediately, choosing a late May date just a few days before Pete's birthday, so we could make a long weekend of it.

For just £65 per person, the course provides two foraging walks (one in the countryside and one along the sea shore), coffee to start the day, elevenses refreshments and a fabulous lunch based around foraged ingredients. Having looked at so many courses I know that's a great deal, even more so given the quality of the food.

We started the day by meeting for coffee at the restaurant. The other attendees drifted in and we were introduced to Theo Langton who provides the restaurant with foraged ingredients and would be leading the course, alongside Mat.

Theo is an absolutely fascinating character. He's a passionate advocate of making use of the land - taking what is natural and available, in a sustainable way and living from the land as much as possible. During the summer, he and friends take to the road, and visit the many fairs and festivals around the country with their multimedia arts and craft workshop which is always very popular. Some of the group make healthy juices not just from the normal wheatgrass and carrots but from a wide range of edible, foraged herbs and plants. Theo is also involved in programmes to build community capability and resilience, encouraging communities to learn the skills that allow them to respond to power outages, snow ins, fires and other disasters and accidents quickly – living in rural areas can mean that the regular emergency services can take a little time to arrive.

So how did Theo become involved with Mat? Having grown up in a family with quite a food focus (his mother trained with Paul Bocuse) Theo did trained in cordon blue himself, learning skills that allowed him to travel the world, finding kitchen work as he went. In October, he walked into The Wild Garlic off the street, introduced himself, and asked Mat whether there was work for him in the kitchen during the winter months, when there are no festivals and fairs running – there was. It didn't take long for the mutual interest in using local and foraged produce to come up, and Theo now provides the restaurant with locally foraged ingredients during the spring and autumn months.

Due to a couple of late arrivals, we got off to a late start, but eventually we were on our way, following Theo and Mat out of the restaurant into local streets.

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Immediately, within just a few years of the restaurant, Theo was already pointing out edible plants and he and Mat would then give us ideas on how we might prepare them. It was a beautiful sunny day and lovely to be outside. The walk was at a relaxed and leisurely pace and, for the most part, us back markers were able to catch up to Theo for his excellent explanations, stories and suggestions about each plant. Often, we would stop to taste them too.

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Before too long we left the regular roads for a narrower path, passing alongside an old church graveyard and then mostly open fields. Here, there were many more plants for us to learn about.

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From the narrow path we turned into a field, tromped across that, past Theo's place and into a cool, shaded lane lined with more wild garlic than I had thought existed in the whole of England! Just before boarding the coach Mat had hired to take us back to the restaurant (and down to the beach later), we took a quick meander around a stunning glade of wild garlic, tinkling stream meandering through, dappled sun and shade…


I munched delightedly on raw wild garlic flowers and stems - the stems were too intense for some, but I loved them… so pungent and juicy!

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We had walked for a little over an hour before we bundled aboard the coach and headed back to the restaurant for refreshments. Teas and coffees all round plus a lovely chocolate brownie – we were soon fortified ahead of our next outing.

Back aboard the Wild Garlic bus, Mat absolutely relishing his role as bus driver (apparently it's been a long-cherished fantasy of his), we drove down to Bridport beach, where a food festival was in full swing.


For me, this second walk wasn't as successful, though I think most of the group enjoyed it. Theo strode excitedly off into the distance and I couldn't keep up. I thought it was just me, with my dodgy hips and knees but there was another couple who were further back then us. The first half of the walk didn't include any foraging so we fell some way behind, missing out on the excited chattering going on at the front. We clambered up a hill and along the coast, in front of a stunningly-situated caravan park before descending back towards sea-level.


On a few occasions, as we neared the beach, we caught up to Theo when he'd been stopped for several minutes but we'd missed the explanation of the plant and just had time to grab a taste before he headed off again. I was able to pass on Mat's message about meeting in the car park at 2 o'clock.

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At this point, I made a big mistake. Somewhat fed up of not being able to keep up and thereby missing all the information and also worried about getting back to the car park on time when we did turn around, I decided to turn around and head back early so I wouldn't hold everyone else up. I didn't mention to Theo, as he was still on the move, walking down onto the beach itself, though did, of course, let Pete know as he stayed, quickly catching up to the group.

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I started the walk back, taking my time, snapping some photographs, enjoying the quite spectacular views (not to mention the sweet little bunny rabbits munching grass in the sunshine). When I got back, there was still no sign of the others behind me, so I popped into the festival marquee and had a nice time chatting to some of the stall holders before enjoying the most delicious home-made lemonade ever, chilled and refreshing, for just 50p a cup. I had two!


Just as I was finishing my lemonade, Pete popped in to find me. The group had been picked up in a car park at the other end of the walk, not very much farther than where I'd left them! Oh Kavey, what a mistake you made, silly girl! Thank you so much to Mat who drove the bus back around to the original car park to collect me.

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Both walks were just over an hour long. The first was really easy, all flat terrain and at a very leisurely pace, with many, many more plants and flowers to learn about.

The second was over steeper terrain, but still perfectly doable for anyone of reasonable fitness, you certainly don't need to be super fit or anything. And whilst I didn't enjoy it (which is no one's fault but my own, as I couldn't keep up) I am sure that the rest of the group had a lovely time.

So, back to The Wild Garlic for a late lunch.

A number of tables had been pushed together so the whole group could dine together. which was really nice. We sat down and helped ourselves to some lovely bottled apple juices on the table and soft fresh bread rolls.

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The starter was a nettle, wild garlic and vegetable soup served in cute individual pans with bread. The soup summed up the morning's walk wonderfully.


The main dish was the star of lunch for me – chicken breast wrapped in wild garlic leaves and poached was so very tender and tasty, served with savoy cabbage, new potatoes with those flavoursome leaves again and a slow-dried tomato bursting with the essence of tomato and yet without the overwhelming nature of shop-bought sun-dried tomatoes which, for me, swamp everything else on the plate.


And for dessert, a little berry Eton mess!

After tea and coffee it was time to wrap it up, but not before Mat brought out gift bags for all of us. Not only do we now have one of these lovely mugs each but also a little packet of wild garlic seeds! Next year I shall have my own crop of this lovely plant!

Mat Follas and mug

Unsurprisingly, given the incredibly reasonable price, the increasing interest in foraging and Mat's own popularity amongst food lovers, most course dates for the rest of the year are fully booked, but it may be worth asking to be added to a waiting list in case of cancellations.

You can email Theo directly if you'd like to know more about his multimedia arts and craft workshop.