. Blog .

29/11/ 2011 Wild and Slow Festival 2011

I had a great birthday treat this year.  The Wild and Slow festival was running on the weekend before so my man and I headed to The BrookLodge Hotel in Wicklow to poke our noses around the festival and also have a birthday dinner in the Strawberry Tree restaurant (see ‘Restaurant’ post for review). 

I had no idea what to expect from Wild and Slow – I’d researched on the website and learnt that it was just as much about the Workshops that were being run as the lovely stalls which I had been expecting.  We arrived and strolled around the stalls – supping on some mulled wine and nibbling on homemade mushroom soup, game stew and the best bit for me – two deep fried rabbit legs, covered in an oaty coating with a moist and earthy flavour.

Not long after we arrived we headed to our first workshop – a feathered game tasting festival by Ross Lewis of Chapter One.  We got to taste 1 day, 1 week and 2 week hung pheasant – really tasting the favour develop as you moved on. Ross talked through the changing availability of game – with birds such as Snipe and Woodcock dimishing, and showed us a few birds – highlighting that the females of the species tend to be ‘more subtle, more understated and far more elegant’.  Hear hear!

Wild and Slow Festival 2011
Goodies in the pantry
I loved the way Ross reeled off casually numerous ways to prepare and cook Patridge, so obviously having a phenomenal understanding of the ingredients.  I’m deffo planning a slow cooker recipe for a Patridge casserole with shallots, thyme, juniper, orange and a bit of stock – and probably some lardons to add a bit of fat.  Also great to see Ross defer to Darina Allen’s vast knowledge too (who had a front row seat!).

Our second workshop by “Big” Bill ‘O’Dea was focused on mushrooms –  I did get the giggles a little at the beginning as I felt like I was intruding on someone showing off their holiday snaps.  Here’s me with a cep, a puffball, a girolle….  Anyway, I soon got over that once we moved onto looking at the most widely available mushrooms in Ireland, where to look for them and how to identify them.  I’ve also noted Bill’s favourite way to eat mushrooms – with some parsley, garlic, lemon, salt, vegetable oil and thyme or tarragon.  Sounds good to me.

I unfortunately had to cut short the mushroom chat as I sprinted over to my final Workshop – a tour of The Strawberry Tree Pantry.  Mary Bulfin of The Strawberry Tree took us through some of the produce that she has created – beech leaf wine, angelica, garlic pesto, mushroom essence, pickled mushrooms, marinaded mushrooms – the list goes on.  Such a fabulous way to ensure that nothing goes to waste – everything is pickled, marinaded, made into jam etc and then used in the restaurant.  I’m feeling inspired – I’m thinking to start looking out for a foraging and cooking type course.

I loved my day at Wild and Slow and am filled with inspiration for recipes, and also a drive to try and source some more natural, fresh, local produce.  To that end, I’m off the Honest 2 Goodness market in Glasnevin this weekend.  Fingers crossed.