Foraging – what bounty in nature’s larder

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Paul finds some scurvy grass on the beach at Longniddry

MANY thanks to Paul Wedgwood who took me on a marvellous bike ride yesterday and showed me just how rich nature’s larder can be.

Paul is a chef and he and his wife Lisa run ‘Wedgwood, The Restaurant’, in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, but he is also a keen bikie and can often be found rolling around the bike tracks of Trinity and Leith looking for an incredibly wide variety of plants and leaves that he can use to add flavour to dishes, or to spice up a salad.

Within minutes of leaving his house we found cow parsley, garlic mushroom, mallow, sweet wild rocket. comfrey, wild rocket and later, after riding along the new John Muir Way from Leith through Portobello, Musselburgh, Cockenzie and Port Seton we found a wide variety of coastal plants like yarrow, orriche, spring beauty, scurvy grass, sea rocket and sweet cicely.

Now, I’ve always reckoned that plants like these would taste a bit like lettuce – a bit mild and not very exciting, but I couldn’t believe the flavour that exploded in my gob after tasting scurvy grass and sea rocket which we found on the beach at Longniddry.

It was like taking a spoonful of horseradish! I can imagine how delightful it would be in a a good beef sandwich.

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Some of the plants we took home

I’ll write up the story later elsewhere, but for the moment let me say this. Paul has introduced me to a completely new world. Never again will I look at a hedgerow or embankment with disinterest. Nature’s larder is rich in all kinds of goodies and most surprising of all, some of the best of it isn’t on mountain plateaux or wild country – it’s there, right on your doorstep in our towns and cities.

And to prove how good it all was Paul took me home and made the most amazing consommé followed by a Forage Salad, using the ingredients we had found throughout the day. Eat your heart out Bear Grylls and Ray Mears!

And the bike ride was great too. The newly opened John Muir Way looks like a marvellous route for cyclists, and the sections we rode between Edinburgh and Longniddry were generally well surfaced with some great coastal views. Might need to get on my bike and do the whole route at some point soon – stopping every so often for a handful of that wonderful sea rocket!

 

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