In the ranunculacae family, anemones have over 120 different forms some growing from knobbly little tubers which are soaked before planting, others like japanese anemone quite happy to rampage round the garden - a garden hooligan my mother calls it, albeit a very lovely one. There are also lovely modest woodland anemones and it was this that I very nearly mistook for wood sorrel.
That's the thing about foraging, you absolutely have to know what you are looking for. Bad enough that you could poison your own family but offering up something from the nightshade family to 14 strangers at a supperclub, well 'enough said.
We planned a foraged salad to go with the potted herby cheese.
J had been out with the lovely folk at forage Ireland http://www.forageireland.com/ for a look at what edibles are growing now and discovered the gem that is wood sorrel, the perfect foil for the rich cheesy stater. He assured me that he had spotted a big clump of it in the grounds of Belfast Castle so up went the mutt and I Saturday afternoon before Supperclub.
Much stomping around the the cavehill and the castle produced nothing however, except maybe a few stares from folks out for a gentle Saturday stroll. Finally I saw a clump of white flowers. Sure they were my prey I prepared to pounce only to discover that it was in fact wood anemone. Thank god for google, I thought it didn't look right and a quick check up on the all knowing www indicated that this was not the boy. I admitted defeat, phoned J and within minutes the Jmobile arrived, the wood sorrel was located and all was well. On the way back home I found some lovely wild primrose and so a few of the flowers went into the basket too.
The very local starter made me feel virtuous and so I planned a pudding which clocked up a few airmiles I must admit. S has been berating me recently to eat more fruit. But at this time of year I really don't see the point. I like my apples crisp and tart - I am very fussy and would prefer to eat nothing rather than the nasty specimens on offer just now - woolly and flaccid, golden pernicious, shudder. However a nice pineapple to brighten up a cool Spring evening and bring the promise of some tropical sun, more in my line, especially when accompanied by sweet and luscious coconut ice-cream laced with dark navy rum (a sea shanty anyone?). The pineapple was bought a few days in advance, left on the doorstep to soak up whatever weak northern sun was on offer and then peeled and roasted hole with cloves and basted with a sweet, sticky spicy syrup. It was a bit divine.
J made a lovely rosemary syrup and just before our guests arrived, he, S and I road tested a gin and rosemary cocktail, lightened with soda and cooled with lots of ice - very good indeed. S's niece Suzanne joined us for the evening helping with serving and dishes and finding time to sing a couple of songs in the dining room - a special moment. The cocktails must have slipped down nicely and after Suzanne , one of our guests revealed that she did a bit of singing too. Leah sang two songs and they were truly gorgeous, thanks! (check her out on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_cowrHUsDw&feature=related ).
It was a great night, lovely guests. We are taking a break over the summer. Two gigs planned for August - Saturday 25 August is booked out but places still available for Friday 24th...