For a good 9 months or so, Justine Paul, founder of Suffolk Market Events (organisers of Lavenham, Sudbury and Nayland Farmers Market) has been hosting Upstairs @ the Market; fantastic workshops and demonstrations from local producers within a 30 mile radius of Sudbury, Lavenham or Nayland.
This month, I was lucky enough to attend The Wild Garlic Foraging & Cooking Demonstration, run by Carl Shillingford from Foraging Feasts. Carl is a Chef by trade, trained to Michelin star standard, by Michel Roux. Carl’s clearly passionate about all things food. He’s especially enthusiastic about food grown all around us, from hedgerows to fields.
Foraging is something I was keen to learn more about. As the daughter of a farmer, I’ve always been interested in locally sourced, grown and sold food, but it’s not something I know much about, which is a shame, because the Suffolk hedgerows and woods are packed full of wonderful edible food. I guess I fear I’ll pick something, feed my family and we all end poorly.
This is why such an event is perfect for someone like me.
We met at Arger Fen at 8.30am on Sunday morning. I can’t remember the last time I was out of the house so early on a non-school day. There is an abundance of interesting edible plants in Arger Fen, however, as an ancient woods & part of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, we were ask not to pick from inside the boundary. Whenever foraging, it’s of the upmost importance you respect the land and treat the plants with care, so their growth is sustained year after year.
Our walk around Ager Fen lasted 90 minutes or so, whilst Carl and Matthew (wild plant purist and expert) pointed out edible mushrooms (who’d have thought in March?) Cow Parsley (looks like Hemlock, don’t get them confused) Dead Nettle, Black Horehound (it comes from the mint family) Chick Weed (perfect for salads) Blackthorn blossom (Tastes like almonds) and many more. We finished by filling our bags with wild garlic, grown just outside the woods. I’m going to be cooking with it for weeks!
I also learnt, stinging nettles are a superfood and if you pinch them at the top, they won’t sting you (apparently, although I didn’t try) the flowers of primroses are perfect for a salad, young cleavers (or sticky willy as they’re sometimes known) are also great salads and juicing. Wood Sorrell tastes like green apples and the yellow flower from common gauze, is surprisingly tasty. Everyday is a school day for me!
After our walk, we returned to Lavenham Market, where Carl cooked a number of dishes using the wild garlic we’d picked, plus demonstrating uses for some of the herbs and plants you’ll find in your garden, in the hedgerows and in the fields.
The wild hedgerow pesto, made with wild garlic, smoked cheddar cheese, wild dill, wild mustard and wild horseradish, was my one of my favourites and I’m really looking forward to trying some of the pesto we were given in our Suffolk Market Events bag. But the wild garlic and leak and potato soup was also delicious, as was the falafel and Spring pudding (made from wild herbs, garlic and wheat)
I’m keen to try out some of the recipes and going to be keeping an eye out for edible plants in and around Sudbury.
It wasn't just me that enjoyed the Wild Garlic Foraging and Cooking Demonstration. Here's some wonderful feed back:
Here are some of the testimonials from today’s foraging
I had a really good time, learn a lot. Thank you. Great cooking too! (from Paula P)
What a great way to spend a Sunday morning. Guys were passionate and knowledgeable and foraging could becoming addictive. Tasting and cooking session was fab! (Sue T)
Most enjoyable, will come again. Fascinating foraging trip then tasty food cooked in front of us! (Neil P)
For other reviews on Suffolk Market Events Markets and Demos click here
If you’re interested in attending some of Justine’s other courses and demonstrations from Upstairs @ the Market, click here to see what she has in store. The next foraging course is October 25th. You can book your tickets here. I’m looking forward to it already!
Member since: 17th March 2014
Hello! I'm Penny from thebestof Sudbury, shouting about the best local businesses from Hadleigh through the Clare. When I'm not doing that, you'll find me knitting socks or tending to my 6 chickens