In addition to learning as much as humanly possible from food acquirers and producers this project is also about disseminating information to a broad audience.
I had a unique opportunity to do just that alongside Chef Kevin Thornton when we co-taught a foraging class in the Wicklow Mountains just south of Dublin, Ireland. Kevin recently opened up his cooking school, Kevin Thornton KOOKS and, in addition to kitchen based courses he also conducts what he refers to as, Wild Food Outings.
I was honored a few weeks ago when he contacted me to teach this course with him! This was an incredible opportunity to work with someone for whom I have tremendous respect and also a way to capitalize on our different strengths to offer an meaningful foraging experience for the participants.
The class met at his home in Dublin and, after a brief meet and greet over croissants and coffee we caravanned about a half hour away to the foraging location. The foray lasted several hours during which time Kevin and I led the walk through the forest, alongside a river, and into open patches, all different micro-environments supporting different plant life.
We identified and sampled a bunch of different edible wild plants including. . .
watercress, wild garlic (just the bulbs), narrow and broad leaf plantain, elderberry, hazel nut, acorns, beech nuts, clover, wild mint, ground ivy, chickweed, nettle, sloe berries, and a variety of different mushrooms.
After we finished foraging Kevin began to work his magic… He set up a couple of camping stoves, pulled out the outdoor cooking gear (along with a copper pot from his kitchen – he loves copper, he couldn’t resist!) and started cooking a cream-based parsnip soup to which he added some wild ingredients, sautéed mushrooms, and a wild tea he created from some of the plants we collected.
After our snack, I walked the students through the process of using a guide book to identify wild mushrooms.
I cannot think of a better way to experience the mountains of Ireland than to share my knowledge and passion for wild plants alongside an accomplished and inspiration chef on a beautiful day!