Wow. I've finally come to the end of the most manic work phase so far in the history of Fat Hen. It's been a fantastic Autumn with loads of interesting things happening. Food Fairs, Gourmet Weekends, Taster Days, Days for children, Production of endless jellies, fungi and seaweeds and a bit of t.v.
Countryfile came down West to film a piece with me for their Autumn Special – to be aired on Sunday 31st October. They wanted to get a community out foraging together like we would have done in the old days. So, they managed to russle up about 13 local Penwithians (not a great cross section of society but hey it's not easy getting a 'real community' out on a Thursday for a whole day). So, with their presenter, James Wong (of Grow Your Own Drugs fame), I took them foraging along the coast at Perranuthnoe, brought them back here and cooked a 3 course WILD dinner for everyone.
We had mackerel with a wild salsa verde, nettle and alexanders risotto with a wild salad followed by meadowsweet carragheen pannacotta, blackberry compote and fennel flower shortbread. It was great fun, totally mad and I absolutely LOVED it. After a whole day's filming it will be 8 minutes of their Autumn Special though extra bits of film and the recipes will be posted on their website.
We had a great Fat Hen Weekend on 9th-10th October with Matt and Claire cooking, their children Grace and Ivy in tow. We also had James and Harry down from Dorset to help for the weekend. James is a photographer and Harry a chef. Check his fantastic photos out. www.jamesbowden.net Can't wait to see the photos when they come.
Last Friday I did another day's filming with Nick Baker, the naturalist who used to present 'The Really Wild Show'.' We made a film for a regional BBC programme called Inside Out. Not sure when it'll be on but sometime this Autumn or in the New Year. We went foraging for our lunch and dinner all over West Cornwall. I was so incredibly HAPPY with the totally wild lunch we foraged and cooked. We had wood pigeon breast pan fried with mugwort, sweet elderberry vinegar and a handful of blackberries and elderberries. It was cooked nicely rare, sliced and served on top of a bed of wild leaves (young alexanders leaves, black mustard, sorrel and navelwort), with some sauted burdock root and slippery jack mushrooms and drizzled with elderberry viniagrette. YUM!
Then we went on to cook what Nick described as 'Eating a Rockpool' with a limpet, mussel and sea lettuce linguine for dinner on the beach. What a fun day and an insight to the extremely long winded process of making a film.
This Autumn I have started running wild food days for school children and I had my daughter Ella's class from St Buryan Primary school last week.
They all tried some crab apple and elderberry fruit leather and nettle soup and got to sort all our foraged plants into categories of food, medicine, useful plants and poisonous species.
They immediately organised themselves into a game of hide and seek in the stone circle. Children are so free and SO GREAT at BEING SPONTANEOUS. They made flags using leaves, berries and flowers as natural dyes and went back to school happy and excited! xx