My fascination for foraging began a couple of years ago, when a friend dragged me across the South Cornwall coast, in search of wild garlic to make pesto. As we strolled through shaded woodland and sunny, salty coastal paths, she pointed out plants as we went along; advising what to pick and how to cook it. I remember at the time thinking that she had managed to appear both wildy adventurous and amazingly glamorous. I was so impressed that she could simply pass a bed of many shades of green, and know which to pick to make THE most amazing dish, and which would give you a rash or even send you to your death?!
So when I saw that the Bedruthan Hotel – with the stunning backdrop of Mawgan Porth Beach – was holding a morning foraging Course with experienced red stuff and wild chef, and passionate forager, Adam Clark; even a Saturday morning lie in couldn’t get in my way!
And the morning really didn’t disappoint. I was met at Bedruthan to beautifully sunny weather, and a very prepared Adam; who had laid out previously foraged items to explore, and a pitcher of home-made elderflower champagne (now that’s the kind of guy I like!) After a brief introduction to his chef history and love for wild food; he delved into a fantastic introduction into the art of foraging. He managed to strike the balance right, as newbies like me could look onto the ready laid out board – and taste when he was talking about – whilst people with prior knowledge could ask more in-depth questions. Just before we set off onto the path surrounding the hotel and beach, we were each given a handy booklet to identify what we were looking for (as well as what we were avoiding).
The booklet also mirrored Adams guidance of the Food Foragers Green Cross Code, including:
- Do not pick by roadsides
- Be wary when picking from hedgerows near farmland; as chemicals may have been used
- Have some awareness of the area you are picking from; could the water or nearby wildlife contaminate what you are picking?
- Be mindful of the environment and the wild habitats
- Only take what you intend to use, never wipe out whole areas of vegetation
- Carry a small DIY blade or scissors with you to trim off what you need
With these in mind, and an expert leading the way, I was amazed how many edible treats kept popping up along our 1hr 45 minute walk: from rock samphire, rocket and Watermint, to black mustard and seaweed (both the “crispy seaweed” kind and Nori). It was a little unfortunate, however, that with a group of around 15 people –a mixture of hotel guests and Cornish residents – it was often hard to keep up with the group and hear everything that was being said. I’m pretty certain at times I missed things being said as I found myself at the back after stopping to take pictures (or soak up the sun…)
But all in all I left with a bundle of inspiration, and a taste for more foraging adventures. Now I’m looking forward to my first full circle experience of picking, cooking and, more importantly…eating some wild Cornish food! And at just £5 (or free for hotel residents of Beduthan & The Scarlet), the course was well worth its money; especially now I know the art of eating for free!!
Fancy giving it a go?
If you’re local to Cornwall or fancy a trip down, check out what events and courses are happening at Bedruthan Hotel this year.