One of the newest food trends, along with buying local and organic, is foraging – looking and searching for food provisions. We have been foraging for mushrooms for ages – keeping our secrets spots very secret – and picking an abundance of fruit from local orchards at harvest time. (Incidentally, Chart Farms in Wynberg, Cape Town, is perfect for picking peaches and grapes when in season).
Is there anything better than plucking veggies out of your garden, whilst conjuring up dishes to make with your prized possessions? (The Teak Farm in Krugersdorp has rows and rows of leaves and vegetables to admire and pick.)
Our local chefs are taking inspiration from this trend. Just the other night, I had a magnificent bejewelled green risotto made from nasturtium leaves picked by chef PJ of The Roundhouse (it was topped with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and a sublime piece of organic veal brain, lightly dusted and pan-fried). PJ also gathers pinecones from The Glen, just around the corner from him. He picks out the kernels, salts them, and turns a fresh beetroot and ricotta cannelloni (the best ever) into something quite special.
Up the coast in Paternoster, chef Kobus Van Der Merwe of Oep ve Koep loves gathering dune spinach. The slightly salty leaves are quite succulent raw, but he prefers to wilt and serve it with a burnt brown butter sauce and his homemade ricotta.
Other excellent ingredients to look out for are dandelion, wild fennel and sorrel, which are great chopped and tossed into salads. Or bright pink water berries. Years ago, in Joburg, we often tossed the tart and watery berries into fruit salads. I can just imagine that they would turn a sorbet into something spectacular.
Right now I am looking forward to giving my favourite braai side dish, corn fritters, a day lily twist by adding the chopped petals (and the stamens removed). I’m not too sure if it will go down well with all the soccer grub we will be eating, but I’ll leave that up to our chefs to concoct!
photograph by La.Catholique