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!