Wow! We learnt so much at our first ever Forest Foraging Event
When we invited a clutch of media folk and foodies to come and learn all about the fruits (and nuts, plants and animals) of the forest, we had no idea it would be such a success.
The event, at our Forest of Dean location, was led by woodland chef Nick Weston, from Hunter, Gather, Cook and our Forest Ranger, Gerry, along with his pet owl, The Professor. The plan was to learn not only how to distinguish between a tasty treat and a poisonous pretender but also how to turn our foraged ingredients into a delicious meal.
We experienced everything from a night time forest expedition to a session on making woodland cocktails. We learned how to make a fire, why pine needle tea is good for you (and how to make it), how to butcher game and how to cook. We learned how to compose a great photograph and of course, we discovered some of nature’s most delicious (and free!) foods.
And so we began…
Once our guests had settled in, Gerry led the Night Vision walk, which delighted everyone with sightings of a fine stag and a herd of Fallow deer. We retired to our cabins (complete with relaxing hot tubs) ready for an early start to the following day’s foraging.
Day 2 began with a power cut! The team at the Forest of Dean approached it with a capable calm and Nick our chef was not put out at all – this was, after all, about a wild, open approach to cooking and his deep Kadai barbecue was more than up to the task.
The first real eye opener for everybody was the foraging expedition. Within 20 yards, we stopped beneath a sweet chestnut tree and found a plethora of edible nuts and plants, including the sweet chestnuts themselves peeping out from their prickly cases, and rib leaf plantain, a familiar little green leaf which had an uncanny mushroom flavour.
Further into our walk and Gerry started eating freshly picked stinging nettles! We were far out of our comfort zone by now, but under his expert instruction one or two of the more daring guests followed suit without a single sting. By now it was time for tea. Pine needle tea brewed on an open fire. The foraging trip ended with our happy explorers bringing baskets laden with fresh goodies, ready to cook.
Nick’s Natural Kitchen
Chef’s apron on, Nick presented a masterful demonstration on how to butcher venison and partridge and then assembled Venison Tartare, lightly smoked in a jar. The recipe summed up the joy of the event - everyone was being introduced to new experiences. We were inspired!
Delicious forest recipes
Time now for our media guests to have a go at their own recipes and what a fantastic and creative menu of ideas they came up with, from partridge breast stuffed with chestnuts, red onions and garlic to the most exquisite Himalayan Balm cocktail.
Forest Foraged Cocktail Recipes
Forest Foraged Game Recipes
Forest Foraged Vegetable Recipes
Sean Tucker, photographer extraordinaire, coached the trainee chefs in the art of photographing food and lined up some artistic shots. The results were amazing. The recipes not only tasted great but looked great too.
Throughout, the atmosphere was upbeat and our guests were genuinely delighted to be discovering so much about the natural world around them and just how many opportunities there are to rustle up something out of nothing. They have already been reporting back to their own readers about their adventures and passing on their learning.
Read some of our guests’ blogs about their foraging adventures:
Come and see for yourself
If you would like to find out more about foraging in the forest, there’s no better way than to come and stay with us and book a trip into the woods with Gerry and The Professor. Gerry himself, learnt a few things from Nick on the day and is now full of helpful cooking tips to go with your foraged foods. Stay tuned for more tips on foraging, cooking and photography and for details of our newly created forest recipes.