Our latest addition to the Village is a bee-keeping enterprise, which will provide honey to our kitchens, and for brekkie, and also for sale in The Store Rooms. Our beekeeper Sarah will manage and take care of the beehive, which is situated in our walled organic herb garden.
Archive for the ‘Organic & Wild Foods’ Category
We like this time of year, there are welcome breaks in between the Big Annual Wild Food Harvests. The Wild Garlic has just, been reaped, and The Pantry is packed to the brim with our dark, glossy green pesto.
Now, we find ourselves just waiting for the bee’s to finish cross-pollinating The Elder Flower for the next large Wild Food Harvest, indeed it is virtually upon us. Room has been set aside in The Pantry for Elder Flower wine, champagne, cordial etc and our famous Elder Flower Fritters will do a ‘Ta Dah’ on The Strawberry Tree menu over the next few weeks.
However, this lull provides us with the opportunity to get out foraging along The Long Field for the sheer pleasure of it! All the Wild Greens are up, Wild Wood Sorrel, Penny Wort, Dandelion, Sheep Sorrel, Primrose Leaf as well as the Wild Flowers…The Wild Garlic Flower, Gorse Flower, early Herb Robert and our favourite, The Primrose.
Down on The Farm, the baby greens are not up yet. As with all farmers, Alan and Mark are very careful about when they go to plant their crops. The overall temperature of the soil and much more besides, results in the Farmer choosing the optimum time to sow.
Nature is reckless, though when it comes to Wild Foods. They are already starting to burst into full growth, it happens whenever She wants and with the hardier nature of wild greens…they arrive much sooner than the Farm Harvest.
So, Wild Greens and Wild Flowers are making welcome cameos all over The Strawberry Tree menu, whether as simple raw adornment with our Starters or Main Courses or as wild sauces, wild soups etc and The Wild Flowers have started to slip into our Dessert recipes too.
However, it is our simple Wild Green Salad, which we love best! This is an annual ‘show off’ moment. A ‘Menu Course’ that deserves a better name than just ‘A Middle’…this is a Course that makes a statement to our guests.
All The Wild Leaves, Wild Garlic flowers and Gorse flowers simply tossed in Kitty Colchesters Organic Rapeseed Oil, and topped with The Prima Donna of the Irish Spring, The Wild Primrose Flower. Its mild peppery and lettucy flavour needs no dressing. Just sprinkled and placed over the top and letting them shine, is enough for us!
Here are two of our Strawberry Tree recipes, where we show off the Wild Primrose.
A FRESH WILD LEAF AND PRIMROSE RECIPE
The Strawberry Tree Wild Leaf Salad
WHAT GOES IN
1 Handful Wild Wood Sorrel
1 Handful Wild Penny Wort
1 Handful Wild Dandelion Leaf
1 Handful Wild Sheep Sorrel
.5 Handful Wild Primrose leaf
.5 Handful Wild Garlic Leaf
Quarter cup, Happy Heart, Irish Organic Rapeseed Oil
HOW IT GOES
Simply toss these spring leaves with the rapeseed oil, no need to add seasoning; the lemony peppery taste of the sorrel and pennyworth combined with the pungent flavour of the wild garlic is enough to carry off this salad. Both The Primrose and The Dandelion are really easy for anyone to harvest, if your not sure about the Wild Greens, supplement your salad with some indoor-grown baby greens from your Green Grocer.
HOW TO FINISH
Finish to impress, toss in Wild Garlic flowers, Gorse Flowers, there’s lots out there! Finally, top off with lots of Wild Primrose Flowers.
A PRESERVED WILD PRIMROSE RECIPE
The Strawberry Tree Wild Primrose Flower Jelly
WHAT GOES IN
100 Wild Primrose petals
100 Scented early Garden Rose Petals
400 mls Water
2tsp Rose Water
Juice 2 Lemons
HOW IT GOES
Put half of wild primrose flowers and all rose petals into a bowl. Sprinkle over half the sugar and crush into flowers, leave over night in the fridge. Pour over boiling water and infuse for a second night.
Strain, combine with lemon juice and remaining sugar, heat gently in a pan to dissolve sugar. Bring to rapid boil until setting point (3-5 minutes or 106 degrees). Remove. As it cools, stir in the rose water. Pour into sterilised Kilner Jars. Just before setting, fold in the remaining fresh primrose flowers, seal.
HOW TO FINISH
Finish with roast baby lamb either in the jus/gravy, finish as an accompaniment to a fresh goats cheese, with any white chocolate dessert or a light sweet mousse or blancmange.
WHAT YOU GET
Is a fabulous tinted jelly, great on its own, but perfect as a gift to your friends or family
With recipes including Elderflower Champagne and Wine, the attached Wild Elderflower template includes everything you need to know about what it looks like, where to find it and pick it, and how to prepare and preserve it.
It’s March and it’s the start of another year of Wild Foods. Free and abundant, Wild Garlic is back from now until about Mid-April, and below are two very simple recipes.
A Wild Garlic, Leek and Potato Bake
WHAT GOES IN
125ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Small Carton of Cream
40 leaves Fresh Wild Garlic, torn
175g Real Ham, chopped
85g Cheddar, grated
800g Old Potatoes peeled, sliced thinly
2 Leeks, sliced thinly
HOW IT GOES
Pour the stock, cream and milk into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
Butter an over large gratin dish . Layer the potatoes, leeks and ham together in the dish, and spread out in even layers with the torn Wild Garlic leaves. Season and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 180 degrees.
Remove the foil and bake for another 35-45 minutes, spooning stock over occasionally, until the potatoes are tender.
HOW TO FINISH
Well, finish as the perfect accompaniment to a real Sunday Roast Chicken, or as the first touch of spring to the last of the Winter Spuds or a great TV snack, when you have the munchies…
Wild Garlic Pesto (A PRESERVED WILD GARLIC RECIPE)
WHAT GOES IN
50g wild garlic
25g cashew, pine, hazel or chestnuts
200ml olive oil or rapeseed oil
40g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Season to taste.
HOW IT GOES
Blitz the nuts and half the oil in a food processor and add in the grated cheese. Add the wild garlic and blitz with the remaining oil to the right consistency. Season. Pour into a sterilised Kilner Jars and keep in the fridge.
HOW TO FINISH
As an addictive yummy for breads, over soups, in roast chicken, on pasta, with baby lamb and more… no imagination needed here!
For a Beginners Guide to the Where, When and How of Wild Garlic, download this file: Wild Foods – Garlic
The Bridgestone Guides 2011 Megabytes Awards
In John McKenna’s final blog of 2011, he announced his Megabytes Awards and we were thrilled to be included.
Inspiration of the Year: The Taste Council Summer School, Brook Lodge, Macreddin
Some events are important because they create a new language with which we can dicuss the things that matter. The first Taste Council Summer School, orchestrated by Evan Doyle and held at Macreddin’s Brook Lodge Hotel, was just such an event and its three sessions, on Middle Farm Agriculture, Education and Food, and Brand Ireland, have given Irish food a new lexicon within which we can frame the debate of the future and our food. The evening feast, with all the food coming from Wicklow (save for David Llewellyn’s Dublin wines), was one of the greatest events in Irish culinary history.
Wild&Slow is now happening. The second workshop of the day is underway, with the inimitable Derry Clarke from L’Ecrivian highlighting the difference in taste and textures of our native game. Dusk draws near, so it’s getting time to light the wood braziers and kick back with a Wild Venison Burger from Ed Hick, and a glass of hot mulled wine with wild berries – yummy. It runs until 6ish today and from 2 to 6 tomorrow. Do not miss it
For details on Wild& Slow2011 see HERE
- Blackberries and beyond
Ireland has 327,258 km of common Irish grass verges and hedgerows. In this workshop, Evan Doyle and Biddy white Lennon will concentrate on what is available there for free, where to look for it, and when it is best harvested, using the Wild&Slow templates to bring participants through each season.
- Photo-stalking in The National Park
This will involve hiking several miles in and around Wicklow, to stalk and photograph the resident wild deer herd and feathered game with photographer, Frank Doyle. Photo competition of participants work, with judging.
- I am the Pheasant Plucker
Game handling master class given by Mick Healy, of Wild Irish Game and Licensed Game Dealer. The workshop will centre round the vast variety of wild game that Ireland has to offer. With examples of feathered and furred, the workshop will explain how this precious resource can be harvested with a sustainable approach.
- Feathered game tasting workshop
…of our native game. 1, 2, 3 week hung pheasant cooked for parallel tasting by Ross Lewis, Chapter One. The main aim of this will be to ascertain the effects of traditional hanging methods, on palatability, textures and taste.I am the Pheasant Plucker
Furred game tasting workshop
…of our native game. A tasting of rabbit, hare and venison. Three classic game meats, prepared for evaluation. Derry Clarke, l’Ecrivain, leads the attendees through this workshop, highlighting their differences in taste and texture.
- In The Net
A Wild Fish Workshop. Exploring seasonality, sustainability and fisheries management. This workshop will also give an overview of the current Irish fresh and tidal fisheries. Presentation by Mick Murphy, licensed traditional wild salmon, snap-net fisherman.
- Medicinal Foraging
Presentation by Herbal medicine academics Freda Wolfe and Clodagh Mulvey, members of the IAMMH (Irish Association of Master Medical Herbalists). This workshop will explore information gathered and used in mainstream medicine and holistic medicine from more than 400 plant species.
- A Gamekeeper’s Story
Retired Head Gamekeeper, Keith Wooldridge, from Ballinacor Estate, outlines his lifetime work, with preparations in spring through to winter shoots, emphasis on habitat, and environmental management. This will aim to inform attendees on the multi annual cycles involved with managing an estate.
- Black and Blue. and Red all over
Matching game with wines workshop. Martina Delaney, Sommelier at l’Ecrivain and member Irish Guild of Sommeliers, serves tastes of Irish Game, accompanied by some of the worlds “gamiest” wines.
- Back to the Basics
A workshop where Darina Allen, Ballymaloe, will focus in depth on the traditional methods of preserving as used by our grandparents for pickling, drying and potting that gave them tastes of summery fruit in jams well after the trees were bare, cured meats and fish in the darker months, and allowed them have vitamins and minerals while nature slept.
- The Sweetest Thing
Three generations of bee keeping, production of wild honey and the state of the honeybee not just in Ireland, but internationally, outlined by Philip McCabe, President of the Apimondia European Commission, with tastings of honeys both from home and abroad and an insight into its traditional medicinal properties.
- The Low Tide
Enda Conneely, South Aran House & Fisherman’s Cottage, Inishere, just beside Ireland! Enda introduces a workshop on the sustainable harvesting and preserving of our native seaweeds and seaplants and their uses.
- In The Pantry
A guided visit and insight workshop on Macreddin Villages unique Wild Foods Pantry, by Evan Doyle, Tim Daly and Mary Bulfin. An understanding, that keeping what you have foraged is at least as important as collecting it, with tips on how to best keep your harvest into the following season allow us to “cheat” nature.
- Holy Smoke
In this workshop, Ed Hick, Hicks Pork Butchers, will outline the principles of curing and smoking. With the focus on wild Irish venison, preserving it by this traditional method and an organoleptic tasting of 3 month dry cured and beech wood smoked Wicklow venison.
Wild&Slow2011 is sponsored by:
Harvest time is always the best time in the Kitchens of The Strawberry Tree, not alone have we got our Farmer Producers bringing in to us the fabulous bounty of their years labour…. but, also our Wild Food Pantry is bursting at the seams with harvested wild food goodies for The Menu. Exciting times for any Kitchen that has to be totally reliant on the seasons; this is the time that our chefs can flourish with Irelands natural harvest…can it get any better!
Well, yes it can and it has done so every winter since The Strawberry Tree opened its door for the first time. We always find ourselves watching the calendar in the Kitchen at this time of year, counting the days down to midnight on October 31st, when for a brief period every year the Irish Game Season opens and our menu transforms totally into a celebration of the largest variety of Wild Game that any menu in Ireland has to offer.
From the heady scent of braised pheasant, the deep dark flavour of slow-cooked venison to the delicate taste of Woodcock and Snipe, a contented reliance on nature’s gifts is as Strawberry Tree as it gets.
And Natures Gifts they are, She gives us a bounty of Wild Foods every winter: Venison, Rabbit, Pheasant, Widgeon, Teal, Mallard, Woodcock, Snipe to name a few…but its Nature that decides when these will make star appearances on the menu of The Strawberry Tree, not us!
For details of Workshops at Wild&Slow2011 see HERE
Presented by Slow Food Ireland and celebrating all that is good about Irish foods – fresh, local, traditional & wild - in a WinterFest Style Market, that will run from afternoon into crisp dark evening.
Picture yourself wandering down a frosty winter street in a rural and picturesque Irish village, your breath hanging foggily in the air, and your hands warmed by blazing wood-burning braziers and a cup of spiced, mulled wine. Imagine the feeling of a unique European Winter-Fest style market, here in Ireland. So now, visualise rows of wooden stalls lining both sides of the street, with hundreds of homemade foods on display. This is the culmination of Wild&Slow 2011, an exciting national event, which is designed to showcase and celebrate the best of wild foods that the Garden of Ireland has to offer.
In addition to the fantastic Wild Foods that will be on sale from the stallholders, there will be Wild Workshops, Tastings, Talks and Demonstrations…something to spark the interest of all.
The Wild&Slow Festival promises to be a great weekend, and if you want to really spoil yourself, why not stay a night or two? B&B is available in BrookLodge on Fri, Nov 18th from €65 pps and on Sun, Nov 20th from €55 pps, with Dinner available both nights in either The Strawberry Tree or La Taverna Armento. Bookings can be made online at BrookLodge Reservations. If you’re interested in becoming a member of Slow Food Ireland, you can get details by emailing email@example.com.
Wild&Slow2011 is sponsored by: