Out of we three brothers, Oliver (the chef) is the great forager – with his mother’s old leather knapsack on his back he will disappear for hours into the countryside and return with a feast of rare edible delicacies.
Before we all began working together, Oliver spent two years teaching with Hugh Fernley Whittingstall at the River Cottage Cook School down in Dorset where he learnt his foraging skills. His party piece in London is to take a group of enthusiasts on a walk through Battersea Park and find 21 different wild ingredients that he then incorporates into a single meal.
It is the season of elderflowers and strawberries and they make wonderful partners. Elderflower trees are blooming throughout the countryside but are also prevalent in many London parks. Their wide white blooms are easy to identify by the distinctive Elderflower aroma. More rare, but you might also find dark red Elderflower trees which have similar flowers that also give a lovely pink tint when steeped.
Wild strawberries are harder to find but it is like discovering hidden treasure when you do. Tiny jewels nestling among dandelions and daisies- we find them along the old cobbled track at the livestock farm- look along dry, shaded rocky banks. Once you find your patch, keep it a secret because you can revisit and discover new fruit again and again.
This simple Posset captures the deep tangy flavour of wild berries with the sweet bouquet of elderflower- a delightful combination.
3 large Elderflower Heads -lightly rinsed
600 ml Double cream
160 gm. Caster Sugar
2 Lemons- juice and zest
100 gms Wild Strawberries (NB These can be substituted for cultivated berries if you are not a forager)
- Place the Flower heads in a small pan, pour the cream over and place over a low heat
- Bring to scalding point (not quite boiling) take off the heat and leave to steep for 20 minutes.
- Carefully strain out the flower heads from the cream then return the pan onto the low heat
- Add the sugar and stir until dissolved
- Add the lemon and juice. Your mixture will thicken at this point.
- Hull the tiny strawberries and distribute them evenly in 4 shallow dishes
- Pour the mixture over the berries and place in the fridge to set
- Decorate with some additional wild berries and edible violets
The Gladwin Brothers run Rabbit, Nutbourne, Shed and Sussex restaurants in London, which they furnish with ingredients from the family’s Sussex farm.