Saturday, 31 May 2014

Saturday 26th April - Knife Skills and Foraging

April and Spring have most certainly sprung. The meeting and workshop fell in to two sessions, one before lunch in the familiar surrounds of the St John’s Church Hall and the afternoon session led us out into Meanwood Park.

We had a good turnout for the morning meeting and mini knife skills workshop. Although, with this being double billed with the foraging workshop, some people had visions of us whittling our own weapons, in readiness for spearing local wildlife! Honestly, do we look like the types who would do that....? Well, not all of us do!

Kevin Maudson and his lovely wife Helen, from Del Verde Restaurant, joined us to talk through a chef’s guide to chopping, dicing and slicing. I thought Kevin would be a little nervous surrounded by the Darling Roses eagerly wielding their sharpest of knives – Lynsey had a full briefcase full of knives (Tarantino style).

Kevin demonstrated the best ways to slice and dice onions and how to julienne a carrot, before he showed us how to debone a chicken amongst other chicken butchery things (it started getting quite gory so I helped out in the kitchen at this point). He then went on to show us all how to make some flourishing touches with a lemon, something to add a little 'je ne sais quoi' to our dinner parties! It was short but very sweet, and we all really enjoyed our little step inside the pro-kitchen - next stop Masterchef.

It was an emotional session - above, the highs and the lows
Some people enjoyed it a little too much!

There was a birthday party booked in the hall after our meeting, so it was all hands on deck to de-stink and tidy up. No-one wants a party that smells of onion and raw chicken! Luckily we were just getting Henry the vacuum back in the cupboard as Malcolm turned up for the pre-party inspection.

From there, some of us went home, and others gathered for a quick picnic lunch before we re-assembled at the side entrance to Meanwood Park to meet with the amazing Mina Said-Allsopp. Mina was there ready and waiting for us to run through the rules of Forage Club. I must say we all looked a treat with our wellies, baskets and wise woman sticks (Val).

Mina introduced us to the St George’s mushroom, we all had our very own one to get to know and make friends with. Mina explained the three steps to mushroom recognition: 1 - sight, 2 - cross-reference with three reliable sources (ideally two books plus one reputable website) and 3 - conduct a spore test. (To do the spore test, lay the mushroom out overnight, half on a piece of black paper and the other half on a piece of white paper. In the morning the mushroom will leave a spore print, similar to a finger print. Each type of mushroom has a completely unique spore print, allowing you to safely identify the mushroom.)

We entered the park and within 10 feet Mina had us picking cherry blossom from the nearest trees, tasting the subtle differences between the pink and the white. It wasn’t to everyone’s taste, but when you got a good piece most of us agreed that it had an almondy taste similar to marzipan.

We then walked only another few feet before we started feasting on a flowering currant bush, something that is so very common and yet I had managed to go over 40 years without ever stopping in the park and having a nibble. Again, most of us were pleasantly surprised (quite sweet, fruity and fragrant - more reliably pleasant for everyone than the blossom had been). From there it was endless taste, touch and smell sensations, never have three hours gone so quickly. Poor Mina and her bump were exhausted but we were so lucky to have been able to spend the afternoon with her. It was such an interesting insight into what we have at our disposal, literally on our doorsteps. Thank you Mina for a wonderful day.

No comments:

Post a Comment