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.
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.
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.