Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Mango Month in Thailand







A number of years ago, I had the good fortune to visit Thailand, right in the midst of their 'Mango Month'.

The celebrations centre around the abundant mango harvest on the islands of Thailand.


As 'Mango Month' commences this year, thoughts and memories turn to the former land of Siam where I spent a fortnight feasting on noodles (in varying forms), Singha beer and mango - (often served at every given opportunity with extra mango)!


Thinking of the nutritional value of mango, the benefits of this luscious fruit are vast.  Amongst other plus points, mangoes are:
  • Extremely high in vitamins A & C.
  • Contain good levels of potassium and fibre
  • Is said to be one of the fruits that is least likely to have harmful pesticide residue.

If you want to create your own 'Mango Month' menu or just a singular mango dish, here are some more facts, cutting tips and recipe ideas to bring a little Thai sunshine into your kitchen!


http://www.mango.org/



 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

French Veggie Food at Le Truc Cafe Birmingham

I remember visiting friends in Paris a few years ago and although seduced by the contents of their local patisserie window, I knew I needed a cooked meal at some point and I had to find a restaurant that would be able to create a veggie meal for me.  Pounding the streets to no avail with restaurateurs not being able to accommodate my requests (French food not renown for its veggie sympathies), we ended up at an Italian restaurant.  As nice as that was, deep down I wanted a flavour of France, not something I could essentially get back home in abundance and at this point my mind was wandering back to the patisserie......

So, when chatting with the Le Truc Cafe team at the preview night of Birmingham's forthcoming #FutureFoodies event, they were telling me that they wanted to portray that although their restaurant serves French food, their vegetarian options are plentiful, encompass a Gallic flavour and go beyond the realms of predictability.  To see for myself, I was invited to sample dishes from their old and new menus.

Independently owned, Le Truc Cafe is an eclectically decorated French themed restaurant on the edge of the Arcadian Centre in Birmingham.  Located next to Hotel Ibis, in the triangle of where the city's Chinese Quarter, Theatreland and bar/club venues meet, it's centrally placed making it ideal for a pre-theatre/pre-revellery meal or as venue for coffees/lunch escaping the crowds of the nearby Bullring Shopping Centre.


Le Truc Cafe

When you walk into the Cafe, it provides a hint of the continental Parisian cafes that are depicted in films.  Then you begin to notice the eclectic art on the walls and in the fittings.  The more you see, the more you notice.  Unique to the Cafe, the management have sourced French inspired pictures and photos from yesteryear, papier-mâché masks on the wall, spray paint art images, Scrabble tile words within the mosaic of the bar and the thing that caught my eye the most was the DJ booth decorated with cassettes!  


Cassette covered DJ Booth

View of Le Truc Cafe


Guided round by Tim from the Management team he explained that people love to walk round the cafe post-meal and get acquainted with the art on display and it becomes part of their visit.  To keep things fresh, every few months the team change some of the pieces and introduce new items which gives the cafe a new look without having the disturbance of a re-fit.



Artwork on the walls





The art theme continues through the table menus.  Looking at the drinks menu, it looks like most drinks booklets you get, but scrutinise it fully and you'll see that it is in the style of a school exercise book!  It’s packed with cocktail ideas, wine suggestions, an outline of forthcoming events and promotions.  This only adds to the charm of Le Truc.


Exercise Book style Drinks Menu
Inside the Drinks Menu


My husband and two of our friends joined me for the meal and me being the only veggie in the party, I was interested in their thoughts of the food about to be served.

For our starter course, we were presented with a grazing board to share which included Goats Cheese Bonbons & Walnut Praline / Home-made Red Pepper Hummus with Cheese Straws / Fennel, Chilli & Coriander Slaw / Polenta Chips & Dip / Mixed Olives / Toasted Bread Slices / Asparagus Tips & Home-made Hollandaise Sauce.  (NB: other grazing board items are available from the menu).


Grazing Board

The asparagus in hollandaise was tender, yet crunchy and the sauce was rich and creamy - perfect for dipping the tips into.  The polenta chips with aioli dip were delicious and with none of us being polenta fans usually, these herb crusted chips were truly tasty and lovely dipped in aioli - we were honestly converted.  The crispy coated soft goats cheese bonbons came with a crunchy, crystallised apricot dotted walnut praline.  The nutty base against the soft-sharpness of the cheese was totally moreish!  The home-made red pepper hummus was speckled with slithers of red peppers.  Made on site, it was tasty, fresh and the difference compared to shop-bought hummus was immense.  Served with cheese straws, we couldn't get enough of it!  The fennel, chilli and coriander slaw was lighter than the slaws on sale in the shops and although milder than its description, it was lovely spread on the toasted bread slices topped with a few of the mixed olives. 

Grazing boards are the best way of being able to sample many of the menu's items in smaller quantities.  A grazing board is fabulous for munching whilst enjoying drinks, say as part of a post-work drinks party, or coupled with the cafe's 2-4-1 cocktail offer and provides a wonderful elongated feasting event becoming a focal point as everyone tucks in.

Following the Grazing Board, we were given 4 main course dishes, effectively one each to sample.  But in the interests of maximising our tasting session and to satisfy our respective curiosities, we all tried a little from each dish.

Artichoke Barigoule from the new menu is traditionally a French peasant's dish.  The artichoke, carrot and onion combination was cooked in a vinegar/green pickle sauce made up of garlic, parsley, olive oil and cornichons.  Surprisingly light, extremely tasty and not at all vinegary as anticipated.  We all said that this works well as a main course but would also work well as a side dish to accompany other main courses.

Artichoke Barigoule


Leek & Gruyere Crepes with Almond Beurre Noisette from the old menu were baked and served in a long dish.  A rustic dish with almonds on top.  A hearty dish, creamy, cheesey with added crunch from the almonds.



Leek & Gruyere Crepes

Celeriac & Potato Fritters were a mixture of mashed celeriac and potato, covered and fried in panko breadcrumbs served with a poached egg in hollandaise sauce and truffled oil cabbage.  The panko breadcrumbs held a smokey flavour and the poached egg with hollandaise when drizzled on a forkful of fritter really lifted the dish.  The cabbage was soft with lovely little hint of truffle.



Celeriac & Potato Fritters


Smoked Squash Mille-Feuille, Lord of the 100's Cheese, Sauce Vierge was an amalgamation of butternut squash within a mille-feuille (meaning 1000 layers) pastry case with spinach and sun-blushed tomatoes.  The Sauce Vierge (meaning Virgin's Sauce) comprised of parsley, olive oil, coriander seeds and garlic, coupled with a pesto-esque pistu sauce of garlic, parsley and oil.  Pastry was light and not heavy-based like typical pie coverings and the squash was sweetened by the sun-blushed tomatoes.  The unanimous view was that it was an ideal main course for summer.



Smoked Squash Mille-Feuille, Lord of the 100's Cheese, Sauce Vierge



Moving on to the dessert menu, we enjoyed the Dark Chocolate Terrine.  A rich, dense chocolate block sprinkled with home-made honeycomb pieces which worked well with ice cream.



Dark Chocolate Terrine


The Lemon Meringue Bombe was very zesty; the meringue was soft and was very flavoursome.



Lemon Meringue Bombe


Apple Tarte Tatin - a real French classic which was freshly made with soft caramelised apples and served with ice cream.



Apple Tarte Tatin


Creme Brulee - was indulgently creamy with a hard sugar crust and a gorgeously creamy after taste.


 
Creme Brulee



The whole package at Le Truc makes for a wonderful meal experience.  The staff are fabulously enthusiastic and knowledgeable, making sure diners enjoy themselves.  On the back of a recent Tweet, where a veggie diner stated that Le Truc had gone out of their way to ensure they had meals they were happy with, the management confirmed that they would be able to make veggie dishes on demand to suit the diner's preferences as their aim is to ensure the customer has an enjoyable dining experience. Backing up this statement, Andy Walker - Le Truc's Head Chef said:  "Vegetarian food should challenge a chef's creativity. Anyone that thinks that slopping a bowl of risotto in front of a veggie is good enough seriously needs to address his or her imagination."

The open nature of the restaurant means that it can morph itself into a venue for coffee, lunch, pre-theatre/ post-work drinks or for a full celebratory meal.  Special events organised by Le Truc and the 2-4-1 cocktails on Fridays create even more of a reason to go!

My friends and I loved Le Truc.  Meat eaters as they are, having vegetarian food all evening, they commented that the quality and variety of the food meant they didn't miss the meat element of their meal at all!  Praise to the Le Truc team!  In agreement, we plan to return to enjoy more veggie inspired French fare and to see what new pieces of art we can spot!

Now that I know that hearty veggie French food awaits me at Le Truc, I won't need to daydream of that patisserie in Paris anymore.....

~~~

Le Truc Cafe will be exhibiting at the #FutureFoodies event in Birmingham on 26th June 2013 at Hotel La Tour.  For details see link


Disclosure:  This post was written following a kind invitation from Le Truc Cafe to experience their vegetarian menu.  This review was conducted with honesty, without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Veggie Foods at BBC Good Food Show

I love the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham.  I attend most years and enjoy the experience of meandering around the stalls - it's a bit like a culinary Aladdin's Cave of all things foodie.  

I love seeing and sampling foods that I don't ordinarily get to see when doing my weekly supermarket sweep.  Plus there are often special 'show-only' offers so you can get a good deal on items versus the standard RRP's.

As a veggie, I'm forever on the look out for new things to fill my kitchen cupboards with and goodies to mix up meal-times, so the Good Food Show provides the ideal environment for exploration.  Here's who I met......




Pepper and Stew's African Sauces


It was great to meet the guys from Pepper and Stew who make African cooking sauces, spices and condiments. For creating African meals or to use whilst experimenting with other recipes, the sauces are vegetarian and come in a range of spice strengths.  Take a look at their site for stockists and recipes!






The Redwood Food Company (trading at the show as VBites) are known to most veggies that eat meat-substitutes.  Great to see the whole range on display with some special show discounts on offer!  Plus, the word on the street is that there are some new lines to be launched in the coming months!  Can't wait!!


Cornish Sea Salt Co's range

Salt, used in recommended quantities, is a fabulous condiment!  Cornish Sea Salt Co provided proof of this with their range of sea salts.  Drawing benefits from their coastal location, the Cornish Sea Salt Co range consists of sea salt flakes extending to flavoured sea salts including chilli and lemon & thyme. Check out their site to see why they're worth their salt!




My fellow foodie pals Krisi & Mike from Bluebird Tea Co are also exhibiting!  A lovely range of teas which I have recently written about.  See my post.




Nibble Nose Cheese Company had a delightful range of veggie cheese truckles including cranberry flavour and caramelised red onion.




There were quite a few anti-pasti stalls with stuffed vine leaves and multi-coloured olives - including these gorgeous rose tinted ones!

Paul Hollywood & Mary Berry being interviewed


Stalls aside there were quite a few celebrities on the various stages providing interviews and demos.  On the Interview Stage were Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry from The Great British Bake Off who were answering pre-selected audience questions about all things from the baking world!


Lisa Faulkner on the MasterChef stage

The MasterChef Stage had Champions and Finalists from shows past and present conducting demos and hosted by Lisa Faulkner.



Over on the Belling Stage, Persian supper club queen - Sabrina Ghayour was demonstrating Persian delights including a wonderful vegetarian stuffing made from chillis, coriander leaves and preserved lemons!



With plenty to see, including the Gardeners World Live show, it's a fabulous food exhibition with much to sample and see.  Only thing is, make sure you go with an empty stomach and a full appetite.


Friday, 14 June 2013

Bluebird Tea Co's Elderflower Champagne Tea

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have recently fallen head over heels  again with the ritual of tea making.  At a festival earlier this month I met with Krisi & Mike from Bluebird Tea Co who were exhibiting there.

I love Bluebird Tea Co's story and mantra.  After working for tea companies in the UK and Canada, they decided to set-up on their own and create a business that focuses on being tea mixologists and creating their own tea blends.  They called the company Bluebird to remind themselves every day of all the 'Bluebird Days' that they had in Canada and the feelings that they experienced out there. The attitude that on a perfect day (in the skiing world that is loads of powder snow and blue skies) everyone stops what they were going to do that day.  Work, school, businesses shut up, and they go and enjoy this once a year day as if it won't ever come around again.  Now isn't that a great approach to have?  To read their story in full, see here.

Continuing my resolve to make time for the delicious art form of tea making, at the festival, discussing the glory of all things tea with Bluebird, they suggested I try one of their signature teas called Elderflower Champagne.



Elderflower Champagne is a combination of floral/fruity ingredients  - elderflower, lemon verbena, apple pieces, orange peel, lemon peel, hibiscus and rosehip blended together with the tea leaves of Chinese oolong.

Elderflower Champagne leaves prior to brewing




Oolong is considered to be the very best, the champers, of the tea world, hence the tea name includes the reference to 'champagne'.   Oolong tea is a very special tea that sits between green and black on the tea scale (so it is partly fermented/oxidised).  There are many different types of Oolong, as with all teas, but in general it is well known for its appearance - tightly curled balls that when steeped, unfurl into beautiful full leaves. 

Elderflower Champagne leaves brewing



Elderflower Champagne came from Bluebird Tea Co's concept of creating an elegant blend that matched the nature of the Oolong with the delicate notes of elderflower and the depth of citrus. 


Elderflower Champagne tea once brewed



To make a cup of Elderflower Champagne, allow a teaspoon's worth of tea to brew in hot water for about 3 minutes, strain the leaves (but keep them to one side) and enjoy the tea without the additions of milk or sugar.  (For more tips on brewing, see Bluebird's link).  Now, I love sugar in my tea ordinarily, so it was a hard feat to keep away from the sugar bowl but when tasting the tea, it was pure, light, totally refreshing and the sugar wasn't missed at all.  You get the flavour hits of tea leaves with herbal-floral infusion within every sip.  

The beauty of this tea is that the leaves can be kept after use and can be re-brewed for up to 7 times, still retaining the flavour and making the tea even more value for money.

As well as the glorious taste and appearance of the tea, it contains more antioxidants and less caffeine than a regular cup of tea with its benefits contributing to good metabolism and circulation.

Aside from Elderflower Champagne, Bluebird Tea Co have a variety of teas ranging from the all familiar black tea, en vogue green tea, herbal teas, caffeine-free to the more specialised teas containing chocolate and even vegan tea.  Take a look around Bluebird Tea Co's online tea caddy which also includes sample packs and tea making tools to purchase!

As for me, I'm going to kick back and re-brew my Elderflower Champagne leaves.  After all, that's what tea-breaks are all about, taking time out and dreaming of that ideal Bluebird day.....



~~~
Bluebird Tea Co are exhibiting at the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC Birmingham until 16th June 2013.

Disclosure:  This post was written following receipt of a sample from Bluebird Tea Co.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 











Friday, 7 June 2013

Seasonal Availability Calendar (Vegetable Growing) & Seasonal Eating

With the increase of allergy sufferers, escalating environmental concerns and campaigns for supporting local enterprises, the media have been regularly documenting the advantages of seasonal eating to help manage these factors. 

Eating locally and seasonally has various benefits.  One of which is that it helps individuals to harmonise with their local environment, which has been suggested assists allergy suffers as it helps them to climatise with the local pollen/air/soil content.  This can help build immunity to the elements around them, potentially suppressing their allergy issues.  Also eating locally means having access to food that is at its peak in terms of freshness and mineral content which is extremely beneficial.  Plus, championing all things local supports the wider community/local economy as well as minimising pollution that is caused by importing food into the country. 

Seasonal eating isn't a new theory as historically everyone ate locally grown produce, observing the harvesting patterns as dictated by the seasons.  It has only been in recent times with the advent of worldwide transportation, that all foods have been available 365 days of the year and flown in from all corners of the world.

As the promotion of seasonal eating continues, education into its benefits is now more widely available.  One such aide memoir is the Seasonal Availability Calendar by Michael Littlewood


Seasonal Availability Calendar

In the style of a long vertical calendar, spiral bound with hanger, this is a great reference guide for the kitchen or indeed for the greenhouse/garden shed.

The calendar provides a 12 month plan for gardeners, food growers and cooks alike highlighting seasonal foods, growing times, harvesting periods and the importance of eating locally grown produce.

The Calendar starts with an introduction to each season, commencing with Spring, its characteristics and the months within.  Each month per season has a list of produce so that you are aware of what is available and when.



The page for Spring


The other interesting factor is that the Calendar promotes the benefits of eating as per what produce is in season and how this has a positive health impact.  Eating as per the seasonal cycles is said, amongst other benefits, to complement the body's natural balance.


Example of produce available
per each month

The calendar provides a timely reminder to all seasonal chefs and gardeners and a reference tool for novices who want to observe the seasonal movements and change to seasonal dieting.

With the months on the calendar having no days written against each date, its generic layout means it can be used year after year.

So whether you want it for your own kitchen wall or as a gift for a green fingered daddy for Father's Day, it's a great guide for everyone wanting to make the most of nature's seasonal harvest.


~~~

For more details about Michael Littlewood, 'Seasonal Availability Calendar' and his other publications, visit:  www.ecodesignscape.co.uk


Related Post:  Herb Guide for Vegetarian Cooking

 

Disclosure:  This post was written following receipt of a copy of:   - 'Seasonal Availability Calendar'.  This review was conducted honestly without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 

Thursday, 6 June 2013

#FutureFoodies Event - 26th June 2013 - Birmingham

If you are a Twitter user and follow myself and/or other foodie Tweeters, you may have seen our recent Tweets drumming up excitement about a new food event in Birmingham called #FutureFoodies.

#FutureFoodies is a new 'social media fo​od fair' celebrating inde​pendent food & drink​ in Birmingham bringing together 17 of Birmingham’s independent food and drink traders, who will showcase their products to guests including food bloggers, journalists, online foodies, and members of the public.

The event will take place on Wednesday 26th June at Hotel La Tour, a luxury hotel in central Birmingham’s emerging Eastside district.



Hotel La Tour



Between 5.30pm and 8.30pm, visitors will enjoy complimentary samples of locally-produced food and drink in the spacious lobby and cafe area. The spread will range from chutneys and cheeses, to canapés, cocktails, burritos, brigadeiros, Birmingham-brewed beers and handmade confectionery.

Hotel La Tour's own brasserie, Aalto Restaurant, will create a lavish Dessert Bar, presenting freshly-baked sweet treats with matching dessert wines.


Brigadeiros by Miss Apple's Sweets

Other businesses exhibiting include artisan delis such as Lewis’s of Moseley, drinks purveyors like the Birmingham Whisky Club, and restaurants like Le Truc Cafe. Collectives of independent producers are also represented, by Heart of England Fine Foods (HEFF) and the Digbeth Dining Club, Birmingham’s first street food fair, which runs every Friday.

Goats Cheese Bon Bons by Le Truc Cafe




#FutureFoodies is led by Dine Birmingham, Birmingham’s online restaurant, food and drink guide.  The event is organised in collaboration with The Gastro CardYelp Birmingham, and Midlands Food Bloggers, three organisations with a commitment to promoting local independent food businesses.

Ahmed Ahmed, creator and editor of Dine Birmingham, explained the motivation for the event:
Through running Dine Birmingham, it’s become obvious, not only that the city has a very rich food and drink culture, but also that people are sharing their opinions about it every day via social media.
“#FutureFoodies is about promoting Birmingham’s gourmet entrepreneurs in a new, community-driven way. People have been really vocal on Twitter in telling us which traders they’d like to see. In fact, most of the businesses in the final line-up were recommended by Dine Birmingham’s online followers.”




Other than the 700+ Tweets that have been flying around Twitter about #FutureFoodies, promotion for the event has already begun via other media platforms including the regional airwaves when on Friday 3rd May,  Hotel La Tour was announced as the venue on Adrian Goldberg’s BBC Radio WM's morning show. 

In addition, the event is supported by Visit Birmingham, the city’s official leisure tourism programme. Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services, said:
“Birmingham’s independent food scene has really taken off in recent years – we’ve seen an explosion in street food, pop-up culinary events and local traders serving up fresh, regional produce.
“With over half of visitors coming to Birmingham due to its acclaimed culinary scene, food is a key part of our destination offer. #FutureFoodies is a unique event that will further boost Birmingham’s gastronomic image, demonstrating the vast range of food and drink available in the city.”

In keeping with the social media theme, with the now heavily-used Twitter hashtag, members of the public wishing to attend #FutureFoodies are invited to join an online guestlist, which can be accessed by visiting:  www.dinebirmingham.co.uk/futurefoodies

I hope to see you all there to sample some of Birmingham's finest culinary delights!

~~~

#FutureFoodies Event Details:
Date and time:     Wednesday 26th June 2013, 5.30pm-8.30pm
Venue:                   Hotel La Tour, Albert St, Birmingham, West Midlands B5 5JE
Tickets:                 Are complimentary subject to registering on the online guestlist        
                               via:    
www.dinebirmingham.co.uk/futurefoodies



Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Alcester & Forest of Arden Food Festival 2013



Occasionally I spend my Saturday mornings meandering around local farmers markets but recently I took my mooching further afield into the Warwickshire countryside and to the Alcester & Forest of Arden Food Festival.



Entrance to Alcester  & Forest of Arden Food Festival


The High Street within Alcester was closed off and pedestrianised to accommodate the festival which boasted a variety of traders selling fresh produce, local ice creams, artisan breads and flavoured oils amongst other gastro goodies.




Stalls by the church on the High Street - Alcester


Some of the highlights I saw included Mrs Shah's Curry Mix packs.  Suitable for vegetarians, packs come in mild, medium or hot varieties to suit all palettes and a little different from the jars you see in supermarket.



Mrs Shah's Curry Mix packets


The M'Hencha Company was represented by Sophie Browne, Artisan Baker.  I was totally enchanted by the range of M'Hencha (aka: m'hanncha) cakes, you can purchase them as small individual cakes (a la cupcake size) or as a larger cake to share.  Its origins lie in North Africa, especially Morocco and within its coiled pistachio studded pastry casing lies the mix of almond frangipane, citrus zests and rosewater.  A delicious combination of crunch and gooey fruity/sweetness.  Not dissimilar to Greek baklava in taste and appearance, traditionally drunk with tea or strong coffee, this will have you returning for slice after slice.  A very nice alternative for afternoon tea if you're looking to wow your friends!


M'Hencha Cakes - Individual & Large!


Cheese bombs are a new way (to me anyway) of selling cheese.  Local Alcester traders Nino Lavinotec (Deli & Wine Merchants), brought along these delightful little 'bombs' that come in a multitude of flavours including whiskey, chilli and red onion.  My favourite has to be strawberry & champagne which was really creamy and a gorgeous way of brightening up a post-dinner cheese board!




Lavinotec's Cheese Bombs


As well as all the grocery food you could buy, there were some street food vendors around the festival to feed the peckish: vegetarian falafel makers KusKus, Churros Susanna (Spanish churros - vegan friendly waffle style sticks covered in sugar, cinnamon served with warm dipping chocolate) and my foodie pals The Jabberwocky - whose goats cheese & red onion jam toasties are beautiful!

Added convenience for attendees was the provision of free off-site parking.  I parked at The Moat House pub just outside of Alcester town centre and the organised courtesy coach regularly took attendees back and forth.  This was a welcomed benefit and saved all us attendees the additional pressure of finding a parking space on such a busy day!

All in all, a lovely way to pass a couple of hours, sampling and snacking in Alcester's historic semi-rural location and all for free!  Here's to the Autumn festival  on Saturday 19th October and luckily we don't have to wait until next May for our next taste of Alcester!


Sunday, 2 June 2013

Wild Garlic

I think it's in my blood.  Foraging that is.  I often hear tales of my maternal family's farm in rural Poland and the foraging fests that my Mum and her brothers used to go on - picking all sorts of things from berries to mushrooms.  So yes, I think there's always been a foraging spirit within me.

New to my foraging radar is wild garlic.  Although I've always known its there, I've never really thought about it too much, always sticking to foraging fruit.  But wild garlic has been praised to high heaven by my foodie friend Lucy and so this year I made it my mission to seek it out whilst on my countryside weekend rambles.


Wild Garlic with White Flowers


Armed with a fabulous book I purchased last year - 'The Hedgerow Handbook' by Adele Nozedar it proved to be a really useful reference guide making sure I picked the right foliage and not a pile of weeds!  The book has detailed descriptions as well as close up drawings to help you forage.  Then, post-picking, there are recipes outlining how you can turn your findings into tasty dishes.

First things first, when it comes to foraging, make sure you do it on public land and not on private property!

With regard to wild garlic, it's mainly found in shaded wooded areas, similarly to where bluebells grow.  If the pungent smell doesn't hit you first, you can spot wild garlic by their wide dark green leaves and white flowers.




Close up of Wild Garlic (NB: it can grow near other plants - bluebells and nettles)

You can pick the leaves out of the ground, along with the flowers, but don't worry about getting the bulbs out.  It is the leaves that are used in the main although the flowers are also edible.  However, the appearance of the flowers indicate the latter stages of the wild garlic season (usually April onwards) so make sure you don't leave it too late to pick.



Close up of Wild Garlic Flowers

Wild Garlic once picked


Interestingly, wild garlic has similar properties to that of standard garlic bulbs in terms of being immune boosting and an aide for digestion.  It's also nick-named 'Bear's Garlic', as historically wood dwelling wild bears used to eat it to get their internal systems working again post-winter hibernation!

In addition to being called 'Bear's Garlic', it's also known as Ramsons.  Many UK towns (eg: Ramsgate in Kent) have used the 'Ram' element of their name to denote the ancient woods in that area that would have had ramsons/wild garlic growing there.

As per Adele Nozedar's book, there are many wild garlic recipes that you can make.  The one that I embarked upon was wild garlic pesto.  Using Adele's recipe as a guide, here is what I made (using very rough measurements):

~~~
Wild Garlic Pesto


Wild Garlic Pesto

Serves 2 (to use as a pesto sauce for pasta)

  • Large bunch of wild garlic leaves/flowers
  • Handful of rocket leaves (or watercress)
  • 1" thick wedge of cheese - cut into small pieces (veggie parmesan or veggie Cheddar)
  • Handful of walnuts (or other nuts)
  • Splash of vegetable oil
  • Salt & Pepper
Method:

  • Wash and dry the wild garlic thoroughly.
  • Place the wild garlic, rocket leaves, nuts and cheese into a food processor/blender.
  • Drizzle the vegetable oil on top and add a good grinding of salt and pepper.
  • Blend/whizz the ingredients together until a smooth paste is achieved.
  • Taste to ensure the right amount of seasoning has been used.  Re-season if necessary and re-blend/whizz.
  • Serve with pasta or use as a pesto with other foods.
~~~

Wild garlic is a fabulous means of utilising nature's larder and can be used in so many ways, enhancing so many dishes, it's worth donning your walking boots and having a good old forage in the woods.  

However, a word to the wise, as delicious as it is, make sure you don't use it for that all important first date, as the kiss goodnight might be a bit stronger than anticipated!