Thursday, 24 March 2011

Wild Food Night

We veg-growing types are always trying to eat in season, of course, and proud to eat food grown locally - even in our own gardens - but the ultimate local seasonal fodder isn't that which we grow, it's that which grows naturally in our own locales. Last night we attended a 'Wild Food Night' hosted monthly by The Country Bumpkin, a catering company passionate about cooking with the seasons, using wild meats and foraged greens, supplemented with a few home-grown veg and handmade preserves and sauces.

The evening was held at the Red Lion pub in Woolmer Green, though they use several venues dotted around rural(ish) Hertfordshire. For £20 per head, the set menu of two starters (and bread basket), a main, an extra 'taster' dish and a dessert is excellent value for money, and it's a great opportunity to try new foods!

For starters, we were treated to a delicious nettle soup (I've certainly noticed those new nettle tops pushing through on the allotment - perhaps I should make use of them myself), and a homemade houmous topped with a really zingy wild garlic pesto, served with a horseradish and black pepper breadstick.
The main was smoked venison sausages (from local fallow deer) served with wild chive and garlic new potatoes, onion gravy, and sauted leek and courgette (not local!). I have to say, personally I found the smoky flavour rather overpowering in this dish, but otherwise it was lovely.
The taster dish was hogweed and onion bhajee, with a homemade paneer and nettle dip. Couldn't say I learned what hogweed tasted like, but wow, the dip was fantastic!

And finally, for dessert, we had a generous slice of Victoria sponge filled with bramble jam and elderflower cream. The flavours were really delightful and perfect for a sponge like this.

What a great meal, and a fun, relaxed evening! I recommend it to anyone, and will be sure to go back as often as I can.

The Country Bumpkin also runs foraging days to introduce people to wild foods and even teaches catching and preparing game. I'm very tempted... They also specialise in hog roasts, cater for private events, organise a farmers' market in Woolmer Green and are soon to open a tea room and farm shop. In 2008 they became 'Local Food Hero Champion' for the region in UKTV's Local Food Hero competition. Well deserved, I say!

1 comment:

Paul and Melanie said...

We started 'foraging' last year (only really some wild berries, damsons and a few nuts) but want to do lots more this year. Would love to find some wild garlic for starters... :)

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