The wild [garlic] bunch

This weekend wasn’t very fruitful, in vegetarian terms. By which I don’t mean that I ate a big burger at the boat race, tempting as that was in the joy of victory (the last time I’ll mention it, but TROUNCED), but that I was out from 11am on Saturday until half ten on Sunday night, during which time my diet consisted mainly of Marmite-flavoured cashew nuts (turns out it’s quite possible to consume an entire bag with no ill effects), a superb breakfast at the Elk in the Woods in Angel, so good I didn’t even resent the sausages my companion was merrily using as soldiers for a fine-looking duck egg…

(That’s goat’s curd on some sort of lovely nutty rye bread with poached eggs and fancy leaves, since you ask.)

… and a nice picnic in the sun, which I didn’t photograph, because I was too busy eating it. Oh, and my first beanburger, at a blues bar in Camden, which was every bit as it sounds. Texture wise, soft beans and soft bun do not an exciting dinner make. (This recipe, which comes with strong recommendations, is on my to-do list though.)

Anyway, back to the actual cookery. On Monday afternoon, I made the tart at the top of this post, featured in Denis Cotter’s Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me (which actually only contains 3 wild garlic recipes, but this is a good one: Cafe Paradiso is the best vegetarian restaurant I’ve ever been to, although admittedly, the list is not long). It has quite a workaday shortcrust base, lined with layers of blanched wild garlic, mixed with goat’s feta and toasted pine nuts, and thinly sliced potatoes – the whole, of course, held together by a beautiful marriage of eggs and double cream.

I ate it this evening (last night being pub quiz night, and a white onion soup, plus a rhubarb crumble to sweeten our outrageous defeat), with a salad. I digress, but these bags of organic stuff, available from the farmers’ market at the weekend, at at Whole Foods during the week, have changed the way I look at leaves. I’ve never been an enormous lettuce fan – the flavour just seems boring to me, but there’s always something interesting – peppery, mustardy, citric, even bitter – to eat here (although last week, a bit too much of the wild garlic):

I found the idea of pine nuts and potato odd, but actually, their subtly sweet, earthy sort of flavours work quite well together – ach, let’s be honest, I’m never going to kick a potato off the plate. Although I’d cooked the slices for 5 minutes in boiling salted water before adding them to the tart, some of them were still disconcertingly firm, which suggests I was probably lazy and cut them too thickly.

On the way home this evening, I stopped off in Chinatown to amass provisions for tomorrow’s tofu challenge. Here’s what I came home with:

As you can see, I’ve invested in some culinary insurance, just in case the beancurd doesn’t work out for me. Fingers crossed…


3 responses to “The wild [garlic] bunch”

  1. Love the look of the wild garlic tart. Sadly I’ve just used my stash up, but hoping to get some more soon – if so, I’ll give that tart a go. Am intrigued by goat’s feta – have never tried it before, and I’m always on the look out for new cheese!

  2. I wish more interesting salad leaves were available. Riverford do great mixed leaves, I especially love that they include dandelion leaves. But, well, that involves having a lot of vegetables every week….

  3. yes – one of the few things I love about Whole Foods is the bags of leaves they stock from the stall at the Stoke Newington farmers’ market. Only marginally more expensive than big plasticky cushions of chlorine-washed Florette, and infinitely more interesting. Wonder when it’s going to catch on?

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