Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Foraging with a Badger

When you're a delinquent blogger who hasn't posted for weeks there is always something nagging your conscience to make sure the blog is not consigned to history -be it a great day out, a memorable beer or a new book to tell people about.

As long ago as the middle of September I was invited for a day of foraging with the lovely folk at Hall and Woodhouse Brewery. I was unsure what relevance this had to beer and as it turned out very little but a good time was had by all.

Here are some of the things I learnt on that day :

The day began at Weymouth, Chesil Beach with a glass of Forager's Nip and a chocolate brownie made with Badger, Poacher's Choice beer. A heady start to a the day.

{Forager's Nip : fill a jar with blackberries, top up to half way with sugar, fill with whisky, shake once a day for a week, store in a dark place for a year. Simples !}

Armed with a pair of scissors and a tub of salt you can gather a feast by the seashore.

It pays to be with an expert and we were accompanied by John Wright who is the country's leading authority on wild food.

Check out his book, Edible Seashore, which is part of the River Cottage Handbook series - a practical guide to foraging for the rich pickings to be found on Britain's seashore.

After a morning gathering Marsh Samphire, Wild Thyme, Sea Beet and Wormwood it was time for lunch.

On the strength this quick lunch the food at the Crab House Cafe now has my hearty approval and a mental note is made to revisit sometime.

Badger England's Own with its white grape and elderflower flavors was a delicious accompaniment to the meal - going especially well with a fresh raw oyster farmed on-site.

Included for aesthetic purposes only. You can take the boy out of West London .....

To forage for razor clams visit the tidal waters as the tide is coming in, look for two small holes in the sand, pour in some table salt and the clam will poke his head up.

Grab the head, hold and he will release himself from the sand.

Put him in your pot for your feast later.

If you rely on your foraging efforts for sustenance you are going to be hungry.

Even the lone crab found in the pots that John had previously set in the waters did not really make a meal for eight though it was great fun getting the stove out and cooking it all up on the beach. No beer to go with it unfortunately (#PRfail)

This proved to be a good starter before the delicious meal that had been laid on at our hotel The Bull in Bridport - again this place has my recommendation and I hope to revisit sometime.

Copious amounts of Badger beers in the splendid company of Mark Woodhouse and his brewing team made a perfect end to the day.

Now, here's some of the really important stuff I discovered on the day :

Hall & Woodhouse have just invested almost £5 million in a new brewery, largely funded by the sale of some land to the side of a pub in Horsham. The brewery is just about finished and will be brewing the range of badger beers imminently. A significant once-in-a-lifetime investment and demonstrable proof of a family's continued commitment to the UK brewing industry.

I am often confused by the range of Badger beers so now I have an aide-memoir. Here is yours :

First Gold (best bitter, malty, orange and spicy)
Tanglefoot (stronger with hints of melon and pear character)
Fursty Ferret (tawny, amber ale with delicate hop)
England's Own (white grape and elderflower)
Golden Glory (peach and melon)
Golden Champion (hint of elderflower)
Hopping Hare (refreshing, hoppy and well balanced)
Blandford Flyer (ginger)
Poacher's Choice (dark with licorice and damson)

Thanks to James Peat for the photography.

Thanks to all at Badger for their hospitality.

1 comment:

Sid Boggle said...

No knotted hankie?