Foraging for a fabulous meal of fynbos and garden greens and flowers at the Good Hope Nursery on Saturday was a novel experience for my hubby and me and a group of our friends. Under the expert guidance of Roushanna and Gael Gray we picked a selection of indigenous flowers, bulbs, seeds and leaves to create together a delicious and nutritious multi course meal, topped off with a scrumptious slice of Pelargonium tomentosum cake with mocha spearmint icing. Now that should whet your appetite!
Introducing herself Roushanna said: “When I moved to the area seven years ago, I loved cooking but knew nothing about plants. Then I fell in love with Gael’s son and the fynbos and started experimenting – cooking with plants grown in the nursery and in the surrounds. I have had delicious and disastrous results!”
We had the delicious.
Midway through an amble around the nursery and surrounds plucking flowers and leaves from edible plants and digging up some bulbs in the spirit of our ancestors, we stopped back at the base and enjoyed our starters:
Coleonema pulcellum (confetti bush)and Salvia chameleagna (wilde salie or aromatic sage) oat cakes
Salvia dentata goats milk ricotta
Whole onion and Salvia Africana-lutea relish
Jasminim multipartum tea
Donning hats we set out again for more foraging. Gael and Roushanna gave a running commentary on what plants and what parts of plants are edible and on those which are toxic. Gael warned that many plants are poisonous and that one should only eat plants that one can positively identify and that are known to be safe. “Some plants are edible only in certain seasons, or after certain preparations,” she said, adding that to collect plants in the wild one needs a permit from Cape Nature or permission from the landowner of the land one wishes to pick from.
“Never pick from a polluted roadside or anywhere that might have been sprayed. Also only pick what you need. If a plant is rare or the only one around, leave it alone. Rather plant local indigenous edibles into your own garden. In this way you will have the plants on your doorstep and be in tune with nature and its rhythms,” she said.
We were not only taught the culinary uses of the plants, but also their medicinal uses. Pelargonium cucculatum for example is used medicinally as a tea for stomach disorders while an infusion of the leaves in one’s bath water will help soothe aches and pains and muscle strain. The fleshy leaves of the wild fig rubbed on bee and blue bottle stings will bring relief to the victim of the venomous beasties while and tea made from the leaves of Salvia chamaeleagna is used to treat fevers, colds, coughs and sore throats.
After greeting the pig who was in the patch where goats had eaten the remains of last season’s harvest – both the pig and the goats fertilizing the soil and the pig loosening it up in preparation for the next planting – we returned to base to prepare together the main course which included the very tasty
Tulbaghia rolls with farm butter
both of which had been pre-prepared by Roushanna (For the recipe for this excellent soup see http://scenicsouth.co.za//2013/10/spring-weeds-in-the-garden-and-for-your-lunch-by-roushanna-gray-of-good-hope-nursery/)
With tactful suggestions from the French chef in our midst, Nadège Lepoittevin-Dasse , we created two salads which included onion bulbs and stems, wild garlic, fennel leaves, fresh coriander seeds, cornflowers, calendula flowers, borage, a variety of lettuce leaves and baby carrots with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and garlic buchu for flavouring.
While the salad makers were chopping and chatting outside, the stirfriers were creating a delicious hot dish of Dune Spinach with olive oil and lemon and another dish which included some of the greens we had used in the salads as well as the tiny crunchy leaves of the Spekboom.
What a feast of flavours! Complementing the greens was an I-wanna-have more relish made from beetroot, fennel seed and Pelargonium citronellum on bree and camembert cheese, washed down with fresh fynbos iced tea.
Phew! Amazed at how replete we felt after what my family would call a meal of “bokkos” (buck food) we needed another walk around the nursery – with the opportunity to buy plants at a 10% discount – to make room for the dessert – that scrumptious slice of pelargonium cake mentioned above. Unfortunately our sojourn at the nursery was cutting into ‘rugby time’ so we had to leave before the buchu brandy – but then, Gael and Roushanna had stimulated our interest in experimenting with the weeds and plants growing in our garden to such an extent that we planned on making our own!
Watch this space!
A note from Roushanna:
In the school holidays we had two lovely kids forage mornings – focusing on edible flowers and wild herbs which we collected from the gardens and used to make and eat in scones. Please click on this link to see what we got up to! http://goodhopenursery.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/kids-forage-and-harvest-morning/
The next Kids Forage morning includes making and eating Pizza with foraged and harvested wild herbs, organic veg and edible flowers with fynbos iced tea. And of course meeting the farm animals, playing in the playground and nature drawings.
These will be held on
Saturday the 2nd of November R150
Saturday the 9th of November R150
and more in the Christmas school holidays.
Our next half day Forage Harvest and Feast course dates for adults –
Saturday the 19th of October R250
Sunday the 27th of October R250
In November we will also be organizing a seaweed course. Dates to be confirmed.