Just a little bit fresh
How many of your kitchen staples could you recognise out in the wild? Would you be able to identify what a horseradish looked like before it got squeezed into a Colman's jar? Did you know that your beloved morning coffee originally grew as a fruit? I must admit, that I did not. Luckily for me (and I'm guessing a huge chunk of the nation), there are some good people out there that do.
Step forward James Wood of Totally Wild, a forager of 8+ years and Sean and James, incredibly passionate and knowledgable coffee roasters and co-founders of Heart of Graft, all of whom educated me BIG TIME at workshops we ran last month. Turns out the fresher you can get something, the better it tastes. In the case of coffee, it's all down to the aromatics and oils that dry out in kitchen-cupboard ground coffee, losing some of its flavour. Coffee seems like a very complex game, but put simply, when you grind coffee beans you get an instant release of flavour. That's why coffee shop cawfee tastes so darn good. So in terms of demystifying the coffee game, 'grind it fresh' was kinda my biggest take-home, if you're after a quick fix in a wild world. If you're not I highly recommend learning the art of slow brew with the boys, an excellent lesson in mindfulness, and a blumin tasty one.
Similarly ground-breaking insight from our foraging trip. Everything I tasted from the more well known horseradish to the less well known common hogweed, tasted unbelievably flavoursome. Intense flavour I'm just not used to in my (regrettably) packaging-heavy lifestyle. The wonderful Amy from 4Lunch summed it up by saying "It's amazing how little you need to get flavour". I am reminded of delicious tomato pasta dishes served in Italy with nothing but two or three ingredients, tasting like pure heaven. I think I am starting to understand now why. Fresh isn't always affordable, but in some cases it can be, perhaps just with a little more effort.
For fresh inspiration in Manchester look no further than the amazing three below.
Into the Gathering Dusk. The brilliant Emma Roberts, creator of wild food, drinks and times who I met foraging, is hosting an evening of wild cocktails, seafood, disco balls and music at Barbecue Coffee, Chorlton on 8th December. Tickets up above.
Totally Wild. James Wood, who led our forage last month has just launched an online shop where you can buy some of his delicious, wild foods. I can wholeheartedly recommend the wild garlic dip and knotweed and ginger jam.
Noones Fresh deliver fresh and seasonal fruit and veg North West-wide from edible flowers to cabbage. Check out their Bredbury-based development kitchen, for training, meetings and all sorts of creative uses.