Last week we once again travelled down to Riverford in Devon with a bunch of hungry journalists to have a look around the farm and spend the day with Riverford founder, Guy Watson. We were there to pick wild garlic primarily, as well as seeing what else is in season now that we are emerging from the ‘hunger gap’.
Before we began picking from the sea of green before us, Guy and the team showed us the distinguishing features between wild garlic and ‘Lords and Ladies‘ – a very similar plant that has a remarkably different flavour and will render you very unwell. Potential wild garlic foragers beware!
That aside, we started by picking and eating wild garlic from an organic woodland area, called Squirrel Passage. Kirsty Hale, one of Riverford’s cooks, was there with her gas stove fired-up to make us a wild garlic frittata, topped with the first of the season’s asparagus. The woodland smelt incredible and as all of our stomachs started rumbling recipe suggestion began to be batted between us.
Next we visited the poly tunnels, or vegetable saunas, where an array of herbs and leafy greens were being nurtured. With bags bursting full of swiss chard, rainbow chard, parsley and dandelion leaves, we headed back to the Riverford Field Kitchen for a much-needed lunch.
As always, the menu was a showcase of the best from the fields, with purple sprouting broccoli, beetroot, red cabbage and wild garlic (of course) all making an appearance. Our guests’ eyes lit up at the unveiling of the dessert bar, a sight to behold!
To end a jam-packed day we had a quick cooking lesson with head-chef Rob Andrews, who showed us three ways to use the wild garlic – in a ham hock soup, with hazelnuts in a pesto and finally baked with potatoes in a makeshift parchment bag.
Visiting Riverford is a real treat and a day out that we always look forward to. A chance to escape the city, fill our lungs with the fresh country air and our stomachs with fresh produce from the fields. ‘Till next time…