Did you know that it’s Foraging Fortnight? There are loads of events taking place across Scotland celebrating wild food. Argyll’s landscape is perfect for foraging. The woodlands, coastline and hills provide bountiful wild food. Foraging isn’t just about finding free food. It’s a way to spend time outdoors and get off the beaten track. You’ll get closer to Argyll’s incredible flora and fauna and get to experience the unique landscape.
Most of Argyll & The Isles is rural and remote, so you can enjoy a foraging adventure pretty much anywhere. Argyll’s woodlands are great locations, particularly in the autumn when the fungi season kicks in. But there’s wild food to be found in other seasons too, including, blackberries and sloes. Seashore foraging is possible all around Argyll’s coastline and is great fun for all the family. From collecting mussels and cockles, to gathering edible seaweed, Argyll’s pristine waters offer so much. You could even try snorkeling at low tide to look for scallops.
If you’re not sure where to start with foraging, then there are opportunities this autumn to learn from the experts.
Scottish Wild Food Festival – 14th September
This Scottish Wild Food Festival takes place this Saturday in Cardross near Loch Lomond. Set in the spectacular surroundings of Cardross Estate, this festival will provide a feast of wild food and the opportunity to try hands-on foraging workshops, wild walks, plant folklore and much more. With some of Scotland’s leading foragers on hand to guide you there is a chance to learn new skills and enjoy all that nature offers. You can also find out about safe and responsible foraging from Scottish Natural Heritage and the Association of Foragers.
Foraging at Botanica – 15th September
Another option this coming weekend is to join Botanica at The Barn on Argyll’s Secret Coast for a Foraging Walk and Wild Mushroom Hunt. Head out into the local woodlands with expert forager and chef Michal to discover local fungi and other foraged delights. Then you’ll return to Botanica at the Barn to cook lunch with your bounty. It costs £80 per person, which includes the guided forage, cooking lesson, lunch and complimentary glass of wine.
Taste Islay & Jura – 10th to 22nd September
Fancy combining foraging with a short break? Head to the island of Islay for Taste Islay & Jura, the new food, drink and foraging festival. As well as a food market and loads of exciting events and tastings, there’s also the opportunity to find out about seaweed foraging and woodland foraging. On the Sunday head to Islay Nature Centre at Port Charlotte for a Celebration of Seaweed. Here you can learn about the different seaweeds that can be found around the coastline of Islay and Jura and get tips and advice on how to forage for seaweed safely. Later on you can join The Botanist Gin’s professional forager, James Donaldson, on a walk through Bridgend Woods. The foraging walk will culminate in a Botanist gin and tonic complete with your own foraged garnish!
Or how about letting someone else do the foraging for you? You’ll find a number of Argyll restaurants featuring locally foraged food on their menus.
The menu at Ninth Wave on the island of Mull is always packed with seasonally foraged produce. This award-winning restaurant is situated in seven acres of croft, where the owners forage for all sorts of exciting ingredients. Over 70 edible herbs, greens, and edible flowers abound in the croft and many of them will make it on to your dinner plate! Meadowsweet and whin blossoms are used to flavour ice creams and panna cotta. Soups and purees are made from nettles, wild sorrel, land cress, dandelion leaves and chickweed are all used, while flowers such as thyme, borage, comfrey and wild pansies are used in salads or as garnish. Chutneys, sorbets, syrups and cordials are made from black elderflower, rosehips, bog myrtle and brambles.
At Botanica at The Barn (see foraging course above), you’ll find foraged mushrooms, flowers and other delights on the menu. At this time of the year, you might be lucky enough to sample Michal’s freshly-made pizza with chanterelle mushrooms from nearby woodlands.
And for something really special, head to Inver, a small, characterful restaurant on the shores of Loch Fyne, that’s been scooping all sorts of awards. Head Chef Pam has just been named Chef of The year in the Good Food Guide. Pam uses very the best local wild and farmed ingredients to offer a contemporary take on traditional and forgotten Scottish dishes. Food is foraged, found, grown and sourced locally and made into something simple; beautiful both to look at and to eat.