Life at Cromey is all about the rhythm of the seasons. Walk out the front gate, and nature takes you by the hand. In mid-May, we set off foraging for two elusive woodland delicacies.
The first is wild woodland garlic, ‘l’ail d’ours’ (bear garlic!), a member of the chive family. Its mild garlic flavor is evocative of springtime. And it’s really versatile. We make quiche and risotto, soups and sautes. We blanch the leaves as you would spinach (which can then be frozen and saved for a day when you want a whiff of springtime in the kitchen). The delicate flowers are a burst of flavor in salads or as a garnish. Best of all, we whip up a pungent pesto that we use liberally, much like a ‘salsa verde’.
The second is wild asparagus, what the French call ‘asperges des bois’, which is not really wild asparagus at all, but the edible shoot of a member of the lily family. But don’t worry: onions, garlic, chives and leeks are all members of the lily family. You have to know where to look, and when. But then, that’s the joy of foraging. Like hop shoots or fiddlehead ferns, they are tender, juicy…and ephemeral.
A few nights back, we combined the two into a saute that we served with some grilled meat. It went something like this: gently saute the wild asparagus stalks in butter until they take some color; add a slash of stock, cover and toss occasionally until the asparagus goes limp; just before serving, add some wild garlic pesto to coat.