Foraging with Toby Gritten and 102 Cookery School

There has been much talk of foraging this year or perhaps my reticular activator has simply been on a foraging focus!

Whether it’s been brought on by the recession and the idea of free food, a wish to support British business in this Jubilee year or simply us all wanting to reduce the impact on the environment and eat seasonal, I’m all for it and have been keen to learn more.  So when I was invited to a day of foraging with Chef Toby Gritten I was very excited!

Toby is Chef Patron of The Pump House in Bristol and owner of The Bird In Hand at Long Ashton.  You may have seen him on Jamie’s Great Britain teaching the infamous Mr Oliver how to get the most from the local produce on your own doorstep.

Our small group drove to 50 Acre Wood on the outskirts of Bristol – a mere 15 minutes drive from the centre.   Toby first took us through the basics of foraging which really were quite simply to pick foliage, fungus, flowers and fruit and seek the landowner’s permission for anything that needs digging up.

Forgaing with Toby Gritten (small)

Picture courtesy of Jon Craig

Then we set off in search of St. George’s Mushrooms which Toby wanted to use for cooking later.  Along the way, we came across Jack By The Hedge (Alliaria Petiolata), Wood Asper and Wild Raspberry bushes

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Jack the hedge (I think!)

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Wild raspberry bushes

I also loved this pine which Toby explained was edible.  It tasted amazingly citrusy.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Lovely pine

And these Fiddlehead Ferns were rather fascinating too.  Toby advised they have a nutty flavour and the best way to prepare them is as theydo in France – soak in a simple salted water brine and then cook them over charcoal.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Fiddlehead ferns

Toby was very good at explaining each edible we came across.  Stopping to show us the detail and taking questions.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Toby showed us which parts to pick from the edibles we encountered

The mushrooms we came in search of were elusive.   Toby showed us how to examine them for maggots which get into the stalks and eat from the inside out.  So it is common for a perfectly good looking specimen to end up in the bin.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

St George’s mushroom hiding in the undergrowth

We did come back with a large basketful but it took some time to find them hidden under foliage.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Basket half way

When Toby was happy we had enough, we headed back to 102 Cookery School to cook lunch!

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

102 Cookery School is at 102 Gloucester Road in Bristol

102 Cookery School is the first UK cookery school to be opened by Samsung.  It’s in affiliation with the kitchen appliance retailer, Nailsea Electrical and is set in a beautiful converted church.  The kitchen space is light and airy with state of the art equipment from Samsung, Nailsea and Nisbets.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

The lesson was at a leisurely pace

There are eight cooking spaces and what I really liked is that they are set up in blocks of four so you can face each other and get to know your fellow cookery students.

Our lunch was going to be Steamed Cornish Cod with St. George’s Mushrooms, Wild Garlic and Wye Valley Asparagus.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Simple and fresh  ingredients

Toby had already prepared the cod by covering it in sea salt flakes for about half an hour and then washing it down and rolling it up in this cling film.  The salt helps the flakes to really hold their shape.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Cod rolled and ready for cooking later

Under his watchful eye, we prepared the freshly foraged ingredients.

Cooking lesson with Toby Gritten (small)

Picture courtesy of Jon Craig

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Preparing the fish for plating up

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Prepare the asparagus by making a small incision at the bottom and then peeling away the outer layer of flesh for a neat edge

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Don’t waste the wild garlic leaves. Roll them up and chop finely for adding to the sauce just at the end of cooking

As our fish went into the oven on steam setting…

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Fish into the Samsung oven on steamer setting

… as we prepared the sauce – simply cream with mushrooms and wild garlic.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

A quick sauce on the Samsung induction hob

Toby plated up our lunch as we were created to wine from the lovely on site selection.

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

A true craftsman

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Wonderful selection of beverages

I don’t know if it was because we had spent the morning foraging for some of it, or just the simplicity of well thought out ingredients but lunch was utterly stunning!

Foraging with 102 Cookery School and Toby Gritten

Steamed Cornish Cod with St George’s, Wild Garlic and Wye Valley Asparagus

I thoroughly enjoyed my foraging lesson and cooking class with Toby.  It was relaxed, interactive and I now feel confident knowing what I can and shouldn’t pick when out foraging.  As a fish novice, I’ve come away with some excellent tips from a great chef.  Toby is calm and attentive as a teacher and it was lovely to meet him and learn more about his style of cooking.

Toby Gritten with foodie bloggers (small)

Me with fellow students and Toby

This course along with a huge range of other courses featuring chefs from the Bristol area is available to book via the school’s website.   The next Foraging with Toby course is on the 8th July.

Thank you to Toby, Samsung and 102 Cookery School for a lovely day.  And thanks also to Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Hannah at Love to Dine for being such wonderful co-students.

27 responses to “Foraging with Toby Gritten and 102 Cookery School

  1. Oh I’d love to go foraging with someone who knows the ropes. The final dish looks amazing. I’ve just bought Food For Free by Richard Mabey to start my foraging off. Not sure that I’ll actually dare to eat anything I’ve found without an expert. GG

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    • I know what you mean which is why this course was so cool. The leafy things all kinda look alike in the wild so it was great to be shown by someone who’s been doing it for years as it’s easy to get confused. I sent hubby out with a picture of elderflower the other day and he came back with cow parsley!

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  2. looks like you had a great time!
    I forage a fair bit locally and it is a great way to both spend some time out and come home with something good to cook… sure beats supermarkets on that level!! just wish I knew more so I could forage more!

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  3. I love to forage. Mostly, I scavenge fruit, blackberries and small cherries and windfall apples. Makes me feel like I’m getting away with something and like I’m smarter than other people in the ‘hood because I recognize food when I see it. I’ll also pick herbs when they hang over the sidewalk.

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    • Brilliant. I had this child come up to me in the park the other day very curious that I was eating dandelions. His mother promptly told him to get away from the mad lady!

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  4. Lovely piece – I went to 102 Cookery School last week to do Tapas! What out for Cow Parsley though – IT actually looks just like Hemlock!

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  5. Fab post. Sounds like a fascinating day. I get very excited about elderflower and blackberries, so I know I would be thrilled if I came home with all the bits you picked up. You were lucky with the weather too.

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  6. Oh sounds amazing!! The foraging, the lunch, the photos!!! Must look into Toby’s cookery class & this school.

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  7. I was going to try fiddlehead ferns this spring. They had them at Wegmans of course. The price tag was a little high, though. I am hoping that the CSA I just joined might have some next spring.

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  8. Like you I am just catching up with blogs I subscribe to and of course this immediately caught my eye. I am SO envious of your combined foraging and cookery session. That looks like a perfect way to spend a day and it sounds like you learned a lot. But it also sounds like your hubby could’ve done with a lesson too! I’m doing a it more tentative foraging but not posted anything other than the Forager’s Fritters that you kindly commented on. I plan on doing a mushroom identifying course this year. Are you?

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  9. What a great experience! I’m new to foraging but love the idea of it! Your lunch looked really good.

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    • I think it takes a few attempts to feel confident that the ‘green thingie’ is edible. I found some borage on a walk with my girls the other day and it was a lovely feeling. Felt very earthy!

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  10. Damn – I want to forage but I’m in Switzerland on 7th! I love this part of the world too (I worked in Bristol, lived in Bath, born in Cheltenham). And Wye Valley asparagus oh, oh, oh. And with Helen from FFF. Just turned a pale shade of green. What a wonderful experience.

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    • There are lots of foraging courses at the moment. Seems to be a big thing this “summer”. Thyme at Southrop also have courses but not til Sept I believe. Will look out for any in August for you xx

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  11. If you hear of a mushroom foraging course in August – please shout!

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  12. Looks like a wonderful day. I was invited but unfortunately couldn’t make it as I was teaching that day.

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  13. Pingback: Mountains of Meaty Mushrooms | The Botanical Baker

  14. If anyone is interested we provide free mushroom hunting certificates and training resources on our site at http://mushroomexam.com/. Its quite a new site so we are also looking for people to help out in the community i.e. generating articles or proof reading what is there already.

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