Spring Foraging on the Pencarrow Coast – New Zealand

The sea air is tangy and bright.
The nor’wester is in full throttle, raking the coastline with relentless force gathered over thousands of miles of ocean.
At this time of year days are intensely long and bright and the wildflowers are loving it!
New season fennel
I’m following a dirt road which hugs the hills on the eastern side of the harbor and winds its way around points and bays.
The protected gullies running up the hillsides are slipshod with purple, yellow, red, orange and white.
Good sign. I begin to fill my bag with wild sweet pea, nasturtium and fennel. All excellent salad additions for color and flavor.
Back into spring. Wildflower forage along the local coast road. Wild Sweet Pea
Gorse and thistle are everywhere, but I leave them for the return walk, in the meantime I grab some mustard flower and watercress which seem to have found their place in the sun.
I turn my attention to the beach and pass by massive lupins and the wind battered scrub trees protecting them. These hardy little trees remind me of the sage brush which is ubiquitous across the hills of southern California. There is even the odd quail scurrying around to add to the So Cal illusion.
Further out on the beach, growing compact and flattened like a bright green plastic crab, Angelica plants are thriving. Often used as simple garnish for platters etc they can also be crystallized.
Wild Angelica growing on the beach
Still further out to the shoreline, kelp, sea lettuce and a myriad of other seaweeds are photosynthesizing like mad in the clean water and long hours of sunlight.
Kelp fronds thrown on the barbie after cooking any seafood is a real treat. The rusty brown fronds turn iridescent green and take on all the flavors left on the hotplate, adding their own umami flavor too. Chop it up and add to the meal.
Back to the track and head into the wind. The gulls and turns are having a blast, ridge soaring the craggy hills and cliff faces. I pick an access point and climb a few feet up the bank to a gorse and thistle patch. The thistle will produce a nut later on in the year and are like tiny artichokes if you are keen enough to get into them.
Gorse flower for coconut flavored infusions.
I remember a competitor using these to win  the Glenorchy Local Wild Food Challenge ‘best use of local ingredient’ one year.  For now, the beauty is all in the bright purple crown so I cut a couple to take home and pay the thorny price.
I give the same small blood sacrifice to the gorse bush, but this time no waiting for a different season. The bright yellow flowers taste like coconut and hazelnuts and are great for infusions and colorful additions to stuffing or ice-cream. Don’t overuse this flower though, it isn’t good for you to eat too much of it.

I have been out for about an hour and have really enjoyed the time. Foraging slows you down, makes you stop and observe, sometimes in minute detail, things that so often you simply don’t see due to the pace at which we live.

Take an hour and go pick up dinner!

Our next LWFC is in Whakatane, New Zealand…stand by!

We are busy preparing for our next LWFC event, which will be held in Whakatane, New Zealand.

This is a really stunning part of the coastal North Island. The area is rich in wild food resources, Maori culture and beautiful natural environments.
Our hosts for the January 16th event are the Mataaua Wharenui and the Whakatane district council.

Mataatua

 

The Mataatua Marae has a unique history.  After decades in museums around the world this beautifully carved Maori meeting house has finally returned home to Ngati Awa in Whakatane.
The Whakatane Local Wild Food Challenge is taking place right in the heart of the summer season. Wild food abounds with superb saltwater fishing, foraging, hunting and gathering opportunities everywhere in the district.

Sharee McBeth Photography - L.W.F.C - Glenorchy 2014-13

 

Local gardens are cranking out fresh veggies, edible flowers, fruits, nuts etc at this time of year too.
This is a fantastic opportunity for local culinary talent on all levels, from all walks of life to come together, have fun and share ideas, ingredients and stories as they cook up a storm and compete for the various prize categories.

Hope you can join us on Jan 16th!