Hello! I’m Adele. You might have come across some of my books, including ‘The Hedgerow Handbook’ and ‘The Garden Forager’, both beautifully illustrated by Lizzie Harper of Hay on Wye.
Brecon Beacons Foraging, for me, is the exciting end product of a long-term dream! After living in a really remote and inaccessible location until recently, my move to Llanfrynach, a couple of miles east of Brecon, which is much easier to get to, has meant that my wish that Wales should have the first dedicated foraging centre in the UK – and that I should run it – has come true.
Although I love travelling all over the UK to teach people about wild plants (as well as the unexpectedly edible cultivated species in peoples’ gardens), I firmly believe that Wales and the borders offer the best foraging in the UK, as well as the most glorious, supermodel landscape that money just can’t buy. Because, of course, foraging, as a complete sensory experience, is not restricted to simply harvesting ingredients for the dinner plate!
I offer several different courses.
- A one-day course, which includes a foraging walk, a 12 course lunch cooked by our chef and using lots of foraged ingredients) followed by seasonally-appropriate workshops. Costs £80.00 per adult.
- Wild Wednesdays – an ambling, rambling forage walk, followed by lunch and a garden tour. Costs £50 per adult
- Foraging for Kids – children are natural foragers and I believe that it is very important to encourage that instinct whilst making sure that our younger foragers have a healthy respect for plants, fungi and their powers. Costs £35.00 per adult – one adult needs to be present for every 4 children. Adult pays £35.00. Lunch is cooked outdoors.
- Cocktail Foraging – a foraging walk showing how plants can be used to make cocktails, with lunch and plenty of samples (designated driver advised)! Cost £90.00 per adult.
- Bespoke Events – How about a forage as a gift for a special occasion? Or a tour of your garden or land, to show you all the edible species there? Whatever you have in mind, I’ll do my best to accommodate it.
- I also give discounts for group bookings.
I thought I’d give you a little insight into my foraging day courses, which generally take place every Saturday (there are a few instances in which they happen on a Friday or a Monday instead – view the calendar on my website www.breconbeaconsforaging.com).
The course starts at 10am and runs through until 4.30 (or, usually, beyond) and it’s amazing just how many different plants there are to be found in the slow mile or so that we walk. The walk lasts between 2.5 and 3 hours and is in no way strenuous. And occasionally, if we’re really lucky, we may spot something unexpected and wonderful, like the slow worm which we found basking in the sun just across the lane from my house. Or the banks of a stream, covered in wild daffodils, seen by no-one unless you’re walking a dog there…or foraging!
After the walk, it’s time for lunch, prepared by Liam. We’ve devised something called the 1000 Footsteps Menu. In a nutshell, the aim is to find as many ingredients as we need within a radius of 1000 footsteps of my house (which amounts to a mile, give or take). In fact the 1000 Footsteps philosophy can apply to all aspects of life, and this is something I’m writing about. All you need to know right now is that the starring dishes in Liam’s 12 course menu include seasonal fungi (this time we used scarlet elf caps from woods I can see from my window, saxifrage, a fresh salad harvested from the hedgerow on the day by our foragers, wild garlic, chutneys and ice creams made last autumn from various wild ingredients (including apples from the tree in my garden), and maple-leaf infused local vegetables. The maple tree is also in my garden. Oh, and we threw in a shot (or two of wild raspberry vodka and a Rose Geranium Angel cake, made not from wild ingredients but from the leaves and petals of a common pot plant! Afterwards, I introduced the group to the works of Sandor Katz, the self-styled ‘fermentation revivalist’’ whose book ‘The Art of Fermentation’ has become an unexpected best-seller. And afterwards, we used his method to ferment wild garlic and navelwort, which will mature, in their little jars, in the foragers’ home kitchens.
I thought you might like to make for yourself one of our menu items, whose ingredients are sourced inside my actual house! You don’t have to use the same variety of geranium, since all geranium/pelargonium leaves and flowers are edible; if you like the scent then you’ll like the taste too. My favourite variety is one called Attar of Roses.
Rose Geranium Angel Cake
6 rose geranium leaves, washed and patted dry
250g self-raising flour
A pinch of baking powder
300g caster sugar
12 egg whites (use the yolks to make custard tarts)
1 tspn vanilla extract
2 tspns cream of tartar
A pinch of salt
Fresh rose geranium petals to garnish
Preheat the oven to 200c /gas mark 6. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment, and arrange the leaves face down at the bottom. Sift together the flour, baking powder and 225g of the sugar and mix together thoroughly.
Put the egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt into a very clean metal or china bowl, and whisk into soft peaks. Gently fold in the flour/sugar mixture a little at a time with a metal spoon, retaining as much of the fluffy cloud-like texture as possible.
Pour the batter into the tine and bake for up to 50 minutes until the cake is golden and springy to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool completely. To serve, slice off the raised dome from the top of the cake and turn upside down to show the leaves. Drift just a little icing sugar over – you don’t want to hide the leaves – and scatter rose geranium petals over the top.
This recipe is reproduced courtesy of Square Peg/Random House.
Find out more about my foraging courses at www.breconbeaconsforaging.com