Experiencing elegant plates of food that sing of foraging stories from your day…wild food guide Rachel Lambert tells us why a foraging break on Scilly could change your palate forever.
Over the last few years, ‘gourmet’ has started to become associated with the forage-able foods on the Isles of Scilly – a far cry from its previous survivalist connotations (memories of the deprivation facing the two last families of Samson island living off potatoes and limpets come to mind). Foraging has indeed become popular again across the UK, and here on the Islands is no exception, except of course the food & the foraging available here is exceptional, that is. The Isles of Scilly are rich with pickings again.
You may well have spotted guests to the islands with stylish baskets, being leisurely guided to pick accompaniments for their supper. Though can wild food really be that good? Well, it can be, especially with an inspired collaboration between forager & wild food guide Rachel Lambert & talented Head Chefs and their teams; Richard Kearsley at Hell Bay and Glenn Gatland, Head Chef at the Flying Boat Club. This combination in skills of foraging and cooking has enabled a special experience to be put together; an opportunity to both taste your way round the islands and experience the uniqueness of four different restaurants and their interpretation of wild flavours.
Embark on a 4 day Food and Foraging autumnal break, and each day will be punctuated with lunch or dinner incorporating the wild tastes of Scilly. What’s more, you’ll be able to experience Tresco, Bryher and St Martins from a truly foodie perspective – gathering ingredients that chefs at Hell Bay, the Ruin Beach Cafe, the New Inn and The Flying Boat Club will transform into lunch, a taster buffet, a 5 course dinner and a Gala wild food dinner. In addition to this, you’ll experience a morning from an insiders’ view of the Abbey Garden’s kitchen garden, plus a food tutorial at the Flying Boat Club.
A perfect balance between gentle exercise, learning and eating? We hope so. The foraging walks, for example, average one mile an hour – an amble rather than a walk really – and are around two to two and a half hours long. Making them accessible to most. Oh, and in case you were wondering, children are often the best foragers, so do bring them along! As the days unfold into each other, up to 25 different plants will be foraged all in all; from hedgerows, fields, moorland, coastal areas and from the sea herself.
Having walked, listened and picked for your supper, the rest of your time can be spent as you choose. Perhaps a sauna, swim in the indoor swimming pool or a more energetic session in the gym or on the tennis court, perhaps. There is of course the option to relax and just enjoy the view too.
Beware foraging sessions and free time, the anticipation when approaching each new set of serviettes and cutlery seems to build each day – how will those seeds be transformed into anything edible you may ask? Rest assured that the chefs have all been trained in the potential of each ingredient, and your foraging guide has a vast experience herself in creating canapes, main course and desserts from a range of wild foods.
Feeling refreshed from the day’s outing & glowing with a sense of satisfaction from learning about the edible flora all seems to add to the atmosphere as the foodies and foragers re-group for each feast. By the final evening your wild surroundings will have translated themselves into soups, tartlets, side dishes for steak or seafood, sorbets, ice creams, mousses…the list goes on. You’ll be recognising ingredients in the hedgerows as you wander down to the harbourside and colourful flowers in the distance now hold promise of bright salads or floral infusions for desserts. On the ride home your newly found knowledge can somewhat be used in landscapes across Europe, though even more special are those dishes never to be seen again, made from the unique blend of plants available on the islands. Furthermore your palette for tastes will have expanded to new horizons and lingering on your tongue will be the memorable delights of wild, edible Scilly.
You could join Rachel on our foraging break this autumn – for more details click here