Fischer’s is a wonderful restaurant, and one we are proud to support. It has a Michelin Star and many other awards – but it definitely is not a place one instinctively associates with food for free…
However, on Wednesday John and I were fortunate enough to attend a foraging day there, led by Dr Patrick Harding, a renowned naturalist, being shown what a wealth of food there is to be found for free in spring.
We all know about nature’s wonderful autumn harvests of damsons, sloes, mushrooms, blackberries and so on but apart from wild garlic and elderflowers we were hard pushed to think what else might be available at this time of year.
Dr Harding is probably best known in his role as a ‘mycologists’ – an expert in the study of mushrooms and his delight was unfeigned when on our foraging ramble round the beautiful Fischer’s garden we chanced upon an edible but dreadfully poisonous-looking layered saddle mushroom apparently also called Dryad’s saddle and Pheasant’s back… We were prepared to take on trust that this was edible, if slightly tough.
He is also interested in the chemicals present in plants, and the medicinal and other uses these are put to. We however concentrated on the edible, and how one can pep up a salad with chickweed or sweet cicely and brighten it up with dandelion petals. One can make soup from the young leaves of nettles in spring, and pesto from ransoms, i.e. wild garlic leaves…
After an hour’s invigorating and enlightening ramble we returned to the hotel to enjoy a truly wonderful lunch, with every dish containing some of the wild plants we had learnt about. Fischer’s has a Michelin star so you can be sure a meal will always be delicious, attractively presented and what’s more pleasantly served. On Wednesday we all ate at one big table and the conversation and laughter flowed as well as at any successful private lunch party with friends.
My only regret was that I didn’t take notes. Several wise people did, and I thought it was all so interesting I would remember every word but my confidence was sadly misplaced. Lots of interesting snippets linger tantalisingly in the back of my memory.
John and I both enjoyed it so much we are planning to go to the autumn forage at Fischer’s on October 22nd and this time I will take notes.