Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wild Food Night - June

Regular readers of this blog will now be familiar with these monthly posts from the Wild Food Night held in The Red Lion in Woolmer Green (and a few other Hertfordshire locations throughout the month) by wild-food caterers The Country Bumpkin. It's fun and fascinating to see what each new month brings - as it says on the menu; "...each season heralds new and exciting culinary opportunities - and we try not to miss a single one!" You never know what you're going to get so it's a great opportunity to try new things - and an opportunity for the chef, too, to experiment with new recipes and try them out on us!

The canapes last night got top marks from me - they're the best we've had yet.

On the left is ramson (wild garlic) toast - crunchy and full of fresh garlicky flavour. In the middle is pigeon mousse, with a sweet, slightly smokey flavour - gamey but mild. And on the right, a nod to the elderflower season with a sparkling elderflower shot. This was better than the elderflower cordial I made recently, and much sweeter - it made me think I should have put a lot more sugar in mine... I wonder if the recipe used is the same one as on the placemats for the event here - perhaps I'll try it next time:

The starter was a wood pigeon consomme - very delicious - served with a sweet red onion roll.

The chef confessed the red onions were not wild, but we didn't mind; the sweetness set off the soup beautifully, and we got a lovely surprise when we broke the rolls open - gooey caramelised onions inside!

Crayfish tagliatelle, with wild rocket, was the main course. Wow!

Good job we brought a seafood-loving friend with us this month - he showed us how to get all the meat out of the shell. A fiddly business, but well-rewarded - the meat was mild but lovely.

These are red signal crayfish - imposters brought over from America in the seventies for the restaurant trade, which have severely endangered our native white-clawed crayfish, as they're more aggressive and spread the 'crayfish plague'. The protected natives are olive-brown, with pale-coloured undersides to the claws, while the signal crayfish are darker in colour, with a white to pale blue-green patch near the claw hinge. (There are a few other non-native species about too, identifiable by spines or long, narrow claws. If you'd like to know more there's a helpful forum thread on the subject here.) I immediately had thoughts of catching crayfish in the river Ver, which runs along the back of our allotment site, but a little research this morning shows I have to have permission both from the Environment Agency and the landowner first. (Actually, some sources say you don't need permission if you're going to fish with a net, rather than trap them, but the EA's application form seems to cover net-fishing and simply 'removal of crayfish' as well, so I'll be double-checking that before I go trying it.)

Dessert was a damson sorbet, made with last year's preserves, and a shortbread-style biscuit filled with rich elderflower cream!

Another fun, delicious and inspiring evening!


marigold said...

In my hometown, we had annual Crawfish festivals where tons and tons of crawfish (or "Mudbugs" as they are sometimes called) were consumed with tons of cold beer, sweetcorn on the cob, and boiled potatoes. All three of these things were boiled together in huge pots with cajun/creole seasonings. Best thing of all - you could eat them with your hands, and make the sqeamish sick by sucking out the brains of the crawfish!

marigold said...

I thought you might find this interesting :)
'According to Cajun legend:


Crawfish are descendants of the Maine lobster.

After the Acadians (now called Cajuns) were exiled in the 1700s from Nova Scotia, the lobsters yearned for the Cajuns so much that they set off cross the country to find them.

This journey, over land and sea, was so long and treacherous that the lobsters began to shrink in size. By the time they found the Cajuns in Louisiana, they had shrunk so much that they hardly looked like lobsters anymore.

A great festival was held up their arrival, and this smaller lobster was renamed crawfish."'

Martin and Amy said...

Looks like another success.

Wish there was something like that around here..!!

Martin :0)

Paul and Melanie said...

I think I say it every month, but I REALLY wish there were nights like this near us! ;) Looks lovely!

Nome said...

Hehe, thanks Marigold!

Sorry guys! :)

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