25 October 2008

fat hen

Our Fat Hen foraging weekend started bright and early Saturday morning at Boscawen-noon Farm, where we met ecologist Caroline Davey, chefs Matt Williamson and Claire Thomson, and our fellow foragers over coffee and hogweed biscotti. Following demonstrations of halloumi- and soda bread-making, we headed out on our first foraging expedition through hedgerows and fields...

down to the seashore:

Along the way, we identified and collected numerous edible plants, including Alexander's...

...sea beet...

...and a variety of seaweeds. Our walk was followed by a welcome break on the rocks with warming seaweed broth, which Caroline had toted in her backpack all the way from the farm.

Our baskets brimming...

...we had a quick look at a mussel bed...

...then returned to Boscawen-noon for another cooking demonstration followed by a glorious lunch in the Goat Barn:

We were treated to Alexander's, wild chervil, and dried fennel flower risotto; wild greens salad; and blackberry, rosehip, and elderberry sorbet. But I realized after I arrived home I'd neglected to take pictures of any of the food. Luckily Diana was much more thorough!

Then it was time to head out again, scrambling over boulders and foraging along the coast at Gwenvor and Sennen.

Luckily by this time my rock-hopping skills were improving!

Back at the farm, we watched a slide presentation by Caroline, then enjoyed another fabulous feast: pan-fried mackerel with wild greens salsa verde, followed by a delicate rose carrageen pudding with fennel flower shortbread for dessert.

Although the next day was gray and chilly, we still managed a good morning forage in the hedgerows, fields, and forests around the farm. I tasted sorrel for the first time, learned how to pick and eat a raw nettle, and drank hot meadowsweet tea (G had yarrow) in the Boscowan Un stone circle.

Lunch in the Goat Barn included nettle frittata, wild greens salad, home-smoked mackerel, and potted rabbit. You wouldn't think we'd be able to fit in another feast, but we sure did. Must be all that fresh Cornish air, not to mention the amazing food!

It was very hard to say goodbye, but we were given little parcels of potted rabbit to take home as a reminder, and fingers crossed I'll be seeing Diana (hopefully with some hogweed seed for biscotti making--hint, hint!) and the foragers from the London area again soon!


  1. What a great weekend. I'm reading Kate Colquhoun's book Taste at the moment (a history of British cooking) so was fascinating to see alexanders which she mentions as being popular in 18th century cookbooks, boiled and buttered. And now you've shown me what it looks like, I realise I've seen it growing - though I never have confidence to eat anything wild without permission, must have really heeded my mum's warnings when I was small! My neighbour (unfortunately she moved and we lost contact) used to pick chervil, and lots of other things, on a west London golfcourse. She made us a wild lunch once and I remember being impressed by how much she gleaned in urban surroundings.

  2. Thanks to Kristina and Pebbledash for such a great weekend. I was a bit dubious at the whole trip to start with, but I was pleasantly suprised by the delicious food, the beautiful landscape, the fresh air and not forgetting the great company! Overall, the weekend at Fat Hen was suprisingly good.

  3. We had such a good time, didn't we? And when I looked ay my photos, I had very few of the plants in the hedgerows, so we've got a good balance between us.

    Discerning Admirer - the weekend was all the richer for your company and humour, thank you.
    D x

  4. Sounds like a very exciting and a very different weekend!