Hot article Foraging

A Fitting Foraging Finale

Morning folks, I’ve cracked it.

On my very last sojourn as Taste Master I think I’ve got to the very heart of what this campaign is all about.

I’ve eaten at fantastic restaurants and bars and had unbelievably good food from all over the State, but what it comes down to is how you GET the food, the UNIQUENESS of the setting and the PEOPLE you’re with. In this regard, Australia has it all.

Native ingredients in out of this world locations with great company.

I’m writing this on the plane back to Perth after an overnight trip to Albany on the Southern Coast of Western Australia. I was attending the launch for the region’s Taste Great Southern festival, a five week food fiesta celebrating the quality local produce and growers that they have in absurd amounts down here (Feb 22-March 30). Before the evening’s event I spent the morning foraging with Local chef and freelance caterer Dan Sharp (Organiser of Taste Great Southerns Oyster Festival) and Paul Iskov from Fervor Food.

Fervor Food is a special company, organising native pop-up dining events combining bush ingredients with locally sourced produce in spectacular locations. A dinner they held recently used native ingredients just metres from the table.

This is where I’ve come to realize that what Western Australia has is so unique. I love learning about bush foods, some of my favorite moments have been with Indigenous guides passing on their knowledge. I spent an AMAZING day with Doc Reynolds in Esperence recently, learning all about paper bark, coastal rosemary and traditional fishing techniques (film about that coming soon folks!)

It’s about having a deep respect for nature. If you look after the land, the land will look after you.

Anyway, I digress slightly, the day started off with lots of eggs. Four in fact…

…and then it was straight down to the water’s edge to collect some cockles. This is what an official cockle collecting implement looks like…

….this is how you use it (kind of)…

…and this is the bounty of cockles I collected in about 30 seconds, enough for a taste at lunchtime.

Then it was onto foraging for native ingredients and bush foods. Have a flick through this gallery, you’ll be amazed at the variety and abundance of edible wild plants, flowers, herbs and shrubs growing right under your nose. A lot of bush plants and fruits are very strong in flavour so only small amounts need to be used to add completelty different dimensions to cooking.

Now it’s off to the free beach BBQ at Frenchman’s Bay for Paul to prepare a Native Salad with Cockles and Broth, and this Ladies and Gents, is what it looked like (minus the broth at this stage). It was fantastic. Good food doesn’t need to complicated, there was such a range of flavours you just can’t often buy in the supermarket in this tiny bowl.

OK, while we’re at it, let’s head on over to Sandpatch, a stunning lookout spot where Dan first got his love of seafood and cooking from fishing here as a kid with his father. Take some raw marron, some blood lime, sea gel (sea water turned into a kind of jelly with seaweed) and stone crop (picked on the walk to the look out) and we have another Fervor Food creation.

What a great last trip on the job, thanks guys. Now it’s time to hot foot it over to the Albany Entertainment Centre for the launch of the Taste Great Southern food extravaganza, including an on-stage chat and Q & A session about my time as Taste Master with master of ceremonies, Verity James.

In front of invited dignitaries and guests, local growers and producers, community leaders and councillors, chefs, the Mayor, CEOs, and sponsors, Verity made me sing a verse from one of my WA inspired songs….and look how happy it made everyone!

I’ve never had such a great reception! Wow, what a gig, the Mayor even crowd surfed (hey, if you’d like to hear the song I sang, scroll to the bottom of the blog homepage and you can play it there……I’m thinking Christmas Number 1).

Anyway, that was my last trip as Taste Master, I’m now flying back to Perth, it’s Valentines Day and tonight I’m gonna cook up a lovely tea for my girlfriend.

I wonder if I can find any beach mustard in East Perth?