coastline wanderings As of late I haven’t been much to our coastline, Ive tended to wandering in the forestry and the peace that comes with gurgling streams of flowing water, I love the peace and solace it brings me.I decided id take a stroll on a beach on day because why not, off with the shoes and the socks down along the waters edge, kicking the top of the water, watching it fly off in front of me. I know I may sound like a child, when I say this, but I don’t care I’m big enough to not care. I like watching the water spread in all directions and the film of water it creates as well as the drops that fall at the end. I mean so what if I get wet, that’s why we have washing machines. Now silliquoy aside, I’m a forager I like to think I am anyway, picking free edible food, from coastline, hedgerow and forestry alike, I spotted some varieties of samphire that I knew I didn’t have in my freezer for later in the year so I picked some after my walk. I picked some rock samphire and some sea blight, both sea salty fresh, crunchy, and a beautiful addition to any stir-fry, or fish dish or chowder, or mussels or prawns the possibilities are endless if it’s from the sea, samphire will work with it. (In my opinion). Alongside both of these, beach mustard starting to seed, as you could guess mustard flavour with a salty hint. No, I’m not making a mustard from them I’m was just admiring them, had to try them. There is a multitude of other herbs and sea veg sprouting at the moment, or coming into season. So on the coast keep an eye on the rocks or the dunes. As always stay safe and you can follow my adventures @chefpaulc on all social media platforms.
As I have mentioned before here that when foraging mushrooms you will need to be 110% sure that the mushroom you are picking is edible, check and double check each time until you are sure yourself that what you pick is the right identification.
the best thing about facebook and Instagram is memories, a mushroom showed up on my memories this year from 2 years ago, I therefore went back to my spots in hope of finding said mushrooms again but to no avail. the 1st time I ever spotted these mushrooms was by pure chance, then again from the size of the mushroom I found you would think that it would have been hard to miss. measuring 1ft across at its widest point. Although edible in its smaller stages I found the larger ones better for drying and keeping for later in the year for stock and soup or gravy etc.
I hope this year, I am fortunate enough to go and collect small ones, I don’t expect to find them, I dehydrated most of what I picked last year and still have some left in my jar, Ive added more mushrooms dried to another jar to start a collection for this year, lets see where it goes.
I hope to identify more edible mushrooms, to add to my repertoire, as well as my jar of flavours. I will be posting these finds on my Instagram so I know what and where the mushrooms are. Im happy to share my finds as well as any info I find and my identifications.
As always stay safe and you can follow my hunting journeys on my Instagram @chefpaulc
As the country begins to emerge from yet another lockdown, so do the plants in the wild, gorse is dying back, while hawthorn, and elderflower and rowan take its place amongst other perennials, the hedgerow now a bloom of white flowers and the fragrant elderflower will undoubtedly brighten up the roadsides of rural Ireland, as always if your are picking roadside try find the quiet unused roads where traffic fumes will be minimised.
while all this is happening at eye level and above, the herbs of the undergrowth, are battling for space and sunlight, including cleavers, (robin run the hedge/sticky willy), herb Robert, daisies, sorrel, different varieties of cress, depending of the ground type different plants will thrive, many of which are edible, some pleasant some not so pleasant.Ive always found nature of a great place to be to pass time, think about things clear your head, and explore whats close to you, I think people forget that sometimes that the hustle and bustle of life can be overwhelming and the return to what I can only expect to be mayhem, even the crowds around towns, shopping milling around talking chatting while its great to see some semblance of what we knew of normality returning I know it will be extremely busy in kitchens and food outlets across the country, and not just our beautiful county, I just hope that people will remember that there is more to life than the mayhem that will be the summer season.
I know myself I will be once again making an elderflower cordial, using both lemon and lime separately, this elderflower and lime drink made an epic keifer, as well as a stunning addition to gin and tonic.
while picking flowers please bear in mind that the more flowers you pick the less elderberries you will have later in the year, while I keep an eye on the trees and the flowers Im also watching the world go n=by in a stream the runs through the forestry, its nothing spectacular its just a gargling, bubbling stream that splashes out, over stones and rocks, dousing herbs and mosses at random.
As always stay safe and you can follow my journey in the forest @chefpaulc on social media platforms
Starting with wood sorrel, this shamrock looking herb, has 3 leaves and produce a small white/pink flower, this is a beautiful herb that doesn’t do well when exposed to high heat though it imparts its flavour it doesn’t make lend a green colour if blended into a sauce.
It is best used in a medley of mixed leaves in a salad or as a garnish herb. It adds a lemony sharpness once bitten into, and eases off to leave a pleasant taste on the palate. It grows in old forests, or on mossy trees. It grows most of the year round while conditions allow. It grows best from mid-march onwards when the temperatures are that little bit warmer consistently, it then dies off after the 1st hard frost as it then just disappears as quickly as it appears.
It is also used in some alternative medicine, to help with high fevers, also to settle weak or sick stomachs used as a gargle for mouth ulcers, and also said to be good for healing wounds. Now I am not a doctor or a medical expert, I’m going to leave that to the professionals. The people who put in the years of training and studies and correlating results. That’s their job, I am merely passing on some of the uses that it has been used for in the past.
Follow along on the Facebook page for more and myself on my wandering in the countryside @chefpaulc on all social media platforms.
Since lockdown began at the start of wild garlic season picking was slim, beaches off limits even slimmer pickings I’ve always had hedgerows to pick from fraughans are beginning the fruiting process at the moment so they are small green berries now when ripe they will look like small blueberries and wild strawberries are ripe for the picking at the moment get them while they are ripe as birds love them and have infinitely more time to grab them than you.
Also fushia nss elderflower coming in thick and fast with the beautiful weather best to get them early in the morning to keep the best of the goodness before the bees take all the goodness.
Some people say it smells like cat pee in the evening, I’ve never picked it in the evening so no comment here.
I’ve always adored the smell of elderflower and this year I have acquired some water keifer from a friend to make some elderflower drinks fotr the year with a little fizz. Big Mason jar at the ready. Stay tuned for results. This could work amazingly or fail miserably. Fingers crossed.
A recent wander in ballyseedy woods revealed a number of pheasant back mushrooms or Dryads saddle mushrooms tasty mocerls I dried the larger ones that I found and had some for dinner myself.
How to cook them. You cook them the same as any regular mushroom, it just has a stronger “mushroom” flavour.
How I dried the larger mushrooms I hear you ask. After cleaning using a damp cloth and a light rinse of water to flush out any bugs I sliced as thin as I could and placed them on some parchment paper and into a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes and then turned it off. When I turned it off I opened the oven to release the steam that will build up.
Check in the morning they should snap quite easily if they bend they are not done. Repeat the procedure once more if necessary.
Our shop has now gone live tralee culinary gangsters t shirts, beanies and vegtopia books availablr for sale.
As always stay safe, support local
Having survived the winter, many plants appear from their winter slumber, light shines for a little bit longer each day the ground encourages growth and light awakens new life in the trees and the hedges of our country side.
The first of which is the gorse, or furze bush with its bright yellow flowers and unmistakably sore thorns. (Use scissors) a bunch of these flowers smells like coconut when inhaled.
Though it has many medicinal purposes it was used alongside the hawthorn as the first wines in this country.
I personally love the smell. Next on my list is the unmistakable aroma from the sweet Briar or flowering currant in mid to late spring.
In the forest the chickweed is still going strong while it’s friends wild garlic, sorrel and chervil come to life. I’ve written enough about these herbs in the past this year the elf cup mushrooms and turkey tails are out in force on dead and dying wood, the more I look the more I see.
Though there isn’t many varieties of mushrooms at this time of year in our little patch of forestry, more appear later.
Looking forward to the year ahead where in my position in the hotel, I’m looking after the herb garden an I’m taking a few of the crew with me on the journey through the year.
Follow the progress @chefpaulc on the usual places
Since last i wrote about this topic, Ive done my usual foraging plus some wandering. I found some beautiful mushrooms and new places to pick flowers and berries,
Mushrooms were always the things that eluded me on my ventures in the forests. Then delight when i find my mushrooms on the rare occasion i find them. Ive dried pretty much all that ive found this year with the exception of the pheasant back which i believe got chopped up and sauteed with some butter and served with some turbot.
By the coast right now sea beet is currently seeding, as such has lost most of its nutritional value, so i dont pick it. So instead I pick samphires, or beach mustard or baby oyster leaf, or sea aster, some sea lettuce and grasses. So not exactly short on things to pick on our vast coastline and arguably our best asset.
I love our coast for its beauty and its bounty, its splendour and raw power of destruction when waves come crashing over rocks, seeing the quantities of seaweed thrust onto the rocks and beach after a storm is breathtakingly awesome.
I still receive funny looks of intrigue and inquisition about how to cook it or what to use it with, people are always amazed with the response hot pan, butter salt pepper serve. Simplicity is key to food no point over complicating for the sake of it. Cook it simply, let the natural flavours sing.
As always folks @chefpaulc on all social media platforms
As the spring kicks into gear, wild flowers, herbs, plants trees and shrubs awaken from their winter slumber. As I continue to forage on a pretty much a daily basis, I see the transformation in slow motion, little bits here and there then I go missing for a week and bang loads of stuff has sprung.
At the moment primrose and sweet briar are all coming along strong, alongside gorse, wild garlic wild leeks to name but a few.
Dandelions as I’m sure you may be aware are weeds, that grow uninhibited in area where you may not necessarily want them. These flowers are the 1st food for bees, along with the sweet briar, all very important to the bees for nectar and honey production.
Later in the season I hope to develop my mushroom hunting skills, as I can already pick the elf cup in abundance, on some days and in scarce supply other all weather dependant.
By the coast, all the greens are developing at a rapid pace. These spring shoots are soft, salty, delicious bursts of freshness, flavour and nutrients.
Now for nettles as they begin their growth on the roadways and hedges of the countryside stinging any unsuspecting passer by. I plan this year to develop a bit more than soup as these early nettles are loaded with iorn, and are a great detox after the winter to kick start the immune system after taking a beating all winter long.
As always stay tuned and follow on all social media platforms @chefpaulc for some random pics from my adventures
As it’s said on “game of thrones” a programme/ series I have no interest in winter is coming well sod that it’s here. Freezing howling winds on the coastline a warm car a short walk away I need to stay on the grass as the restaurant requires fresh sea greens as we once again run close. Now I don’t mind the cold, it’s now wet and cold it’s miserable and I’m stooped over some sea beet like I’m footing turf scanning around for the next plant to take a bit from.
While the forest still some respite from the elements, wild herbs still flourish and the hardier herbs remain, dandelion leaves still like through the undergrowth. While briars begin the annual purge of leaves, along with the rest of the deciduous trees, the sound of crunching leaves no matter how old you think you are brings the cheery child out of everyone. *kicks a pile of leaves.
Many of you know I enjoy forestry walks and have discovered mushroom hunting, Just wandering from a beaten track because something catches my eye, and intrigues my more inquisitive side regardless of my attire, in I go through mud, swamp, and water. Not often has my balance betrayed me when it does I have a soft/wet landing.
As always follow the restaurant on all social media @croitralee or myself @chefpaulc
Quick side note, butcher masterclass on the 15th November in the IT Tralee at 1pm. Check put our page events for more info.
As my summer harvests draw to a close the autumn/winter crops begin to flourish, amid shades of red orange yellow and green, whilst a hazy sunrise listens over the coast. A lapping tide caresses rocks with pools of seaweeds, and sea grasses.
The coast i find is an amazing place this time of year so peaceful and beautiful, yet silently deadly at the safe time as I fell foul of rock lucky to escape with bruising.
While near the coast a number of people who walk regularly whether with a dog or by themselves have come to associate me with the restaurant and my mandatory gangster gear.
Berries cascade from briars, along a pathway near the beach. Morning gangster, or chef, or Jez your out early to some new faces. A conversation about food and their memories usually ensues, I find these interesting and borderline inspirational, people talk about their childhood memories about picking this or that or my grandmother used to do this is that long-go (abbreviation intentional).
My forestry trailers still find my presence amusing, a hearty morning and continue on with their business, that is until they see tree leaves in my tub and all of a sudden, using those really??? Total confusion, tell them it’s dinner and this look quickly turns to disbelief, a little explaining and they turn to shock and awe, that idea is class.
Till next time people.
Follow on all platforms @chefpaulc and the restaurant the same @croitralee.