May 282009

Wow!  we were totally blessed with perfect weather for Fat Hen's gourmet wild food weekend last weekend 23/24th May.  blazing hot sunshine all weekend….We also had a great gang of people on our weekend including two lovely writers and three hilarious lads from Surrey.  We foraged for rock samphire, laver seaweed, sea beet, mallow flowers, hedge bedstraw, wood sorrel, pink purslane, wild fennel, three cornered leek, black mustard leaves and flower buds, elderflowers, sweet violet leaves, mallow leaves, wild cabbage (almost on its way out), oxeye daisy flowers and leaves, sorrel, wall pennywort, carragheen seaweed, dulse seaweed, pignuts, jelly ear fungus etc. etc….  we were also lucky enough to get a delivery of a huge box of fish and spider crabs on Friday night literally an hour out of the water.  Some of the fish were still moving – you can't get fresher than that.  Huge thanks to Roger for the fish.  It was so fresh that we ate the mackerel raw with lemon juice, miso and wrapped in black mustard leaf… delicious…and we had a lovely fish soup with the John Dory, plaice, lemon sole and gurnard….

We just caught the end of the venison season and had seared venison with black pepper and mugwort, potato gratin with mugwort and wild fennel and wild cabbage and sea beet.

Elderflowers are just coming out down here and we managed to get enough to fritter and serve alongside our classic vanilla and lemon carragheen pudding.  Yum….

The evening folk music was played outside around the fire and much wine was swilled……

Tuesday saw a film shoot with The One Show on BBC1 on a headland above Perranporth beach.  I had to cook up some seaweed dishes for the show's 'family' who are on holiday in Cornwall trying out local wildlife activities.  The crispy seaweed went down the pan (quite literally) as the saucepan of hot oil slid off the stove on the windy and uneven headland but all was not lost as the black pudding with laver seaweed went down a treat, as did the carragheen seaweed pudding… it will be shown at 7pm sometime during the week 13th-20th July.

I'm getting twitchy about elderflowers and keeping a keen eye on progress every day, trying to judge the best time to go gathering.  I always reckon the morning is best before the sun comes out as the elderflowers are at their sweetest and most fragrant.  I'm lining up my bottles for elderflower champagne and have bagged the empty champagne bottles from our friend's wedding on Saturday night… Elderflower frenzy….cordial, cupcakes, dried flowers, infused into caster sugar, with gooseberries, as a sorbet.


There are few wild things that bring me such joy!!  you really can't beat elderflowers with their fresh and light fragrance- a true sign of the start of summer.

And off I go to sleep dreaming of elderflowers.   Alas, it is dangerous to fall asleep under an elder tree in full flower for risk of being taken away by fairies to another realm…(true folklore no less).  Respect to the elder tree.


  One Response to “What a weekend!”

  1. You’ll be heading into elderflower season again soon this year — so you can enjoy something we’ve finished up with for the season (we’re in mid-autumn now, in the Southern Hemisphere): a German immigrant friend shared this with me this past summer – Elderflower pancakes. You make a simple pancake batter (I added jaggery and cinnamon to my basic recipe) and dip a whole flower head into the batter by its long stem, and then place into the skillet, cutting off the stem as close to the pancake as you can, so you flip and cook the other side. Serve with fresh butter (we are so lucky to have Dottie the house cow!) and organic maple syrup.
    Andrea in NZ

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