Petersham Nurseries Wild Food Walk With Claudio Bincoletto – Write Up


Petersham Nurseries Wild Food Walk With Claudio Bincoletto – Write Up

Sunday, 22nd February 2015 09:30am – 12:00pm
SOLD OUT (£35.00)
Concession (£30.00)

Discover the joys of foraging with the charismatic and knowledgeable chef and horticulturalist, Claudio Bincoletto. Each walk lasts an hour after with we return to the Nurseries for a light brunch, glass of wine and cooking demonstration.Tickets £35.00 (includes walk, light foraged lunch including tea/ coffee and a glass of wine).

I decided to treat myself to the above, which is the Wild Food Walk from Petersham Nurseries.  Having never been to any of their events I was super excited.  Being a total novice forager I was keen to find out more about what I could acquire in the wild to eat, be it raw or cooked.

My mind did wonder as to what exactly one would find at this time of the year foraging but I was assured upon a telephone conversation with one of the lovely staff at Petersham that I would return with at least three or four foraged items to cook/keep.

Even though I have been there a few times now to shop and eat their wonderful gluten free cake,  the splendour and sense of magic when you enter Petersham still takes my breath away.

(please click upon any image in the galleries to have it brought up to full size)

It was one of those mornings where you could see your own breath and the frost lay lightly upon the ground.  I arrived with a friend of mine and saw a variety of age groups, some with babies also arriving for the scheduled event.

Having never seen Claudio Bincoletto I was rather excited when I spied him through the vintage glass of one of the large greenhouses preparing what looked like our lunch.  I made my introductions to him upon entering and received a very warm welcome and could tell immediately that I was going to have an enjoyable day.

All the eager participants of the event had a few minutes to mingle and peruse the indoor shopping area, to get some ideas and feel a certain sense of inspiration to get planting for the year ahead.

Claudio then made his introductions to all and it was time to go.  As we were leaving to go for our walk I spied next door where he had been working to see a lovely rustic natural display upon the long iron tables, it was a sign of good things to come.

Claudio started with the history of the immediate area and Petersham itself, I wont be a spoiler and talk about it here, because then you won’t be tempted to go and try it out for yourself.

I was shocked to be told that this area which is so wild and seemingly unkempt to the novices eye that this used to be a beautiful wild garden with a summer house.  The rising waters have caused much damage and havoc in the local area.

This used to be a lovely wild garden with a Summer house

This used to be a lovely wild garden with a Summer house since ruined by rising water levels


There were a few lovely private gardens tucked away on our walk which always gave a sense of magical mystery as one peeked through the iron gates.

Claudio was extremely passionate about preserving the majestic trees, so many of which have suffered with the rising waters and various other influences.  He gave us the entire history of each statuesque tree with a sense of fondness like they were almost family members. There are not as many left now, perhaps a handful in the wild wooded area that formed part of our walk.

Having traversed the woodland we then had a short amble down by the river, only to turn left back in to the woods and witness more water damage.  You can see some of the preventative measures in the form of sand bags that have been put up.

We were shown two types of wild garlic, now I know they had special names but for the life of me I cannot remember what they were.   However one is best cooked, the other not and just put in salads.  But like all things, one has to be careful certainly that we know that what we are picking is safe and edible and also not urinated upon by the many doggies going for their walks.

Claudio showed us the Artist’s Conk, or rather Nature’s Canvas.  I found this a fascinating fungus.  It is not edible.  However if you touch underneath it is super soft, like a soft leather and artists have been known to draw pictures upon it.   You can see a really interesting article about it here:-  Artist’s Conk

We also found the Judas Ear mushroom which apparently is edible.  I have to say to me it looked utterly disgusting and felt it too, it caused many an “urgh yuk” amonstg fellow walkers.  I don’t think I would want to try it, but interesting all the same.

Some of the trees that have seen better days still strike an imposing silhouette against the skyline.

Claudio explained about a fungus that eats away at the inside of the trees.  Many of the majestic prominent ones have fallen to this fungus.  However what was interesting is that this fungus eats away at the entire core of the tree, you can see this in the photo below.  The tree either dies because of this or becomes stronger, the fact that it is hollow means that it is more flexible in the wind and less likely to fall over in high gusts.

What is the saying “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger?”

Petersham Nursries visit 278

We finally returned after about an hour.  Being a visual person I took delight at all the table decor.  The walkers were invited to find a seat, it was all a very relaxed affair.

Once we were all seated, Claudio with various cooks served us bit by bit an array of wonderful foods.  Not the type I would normally cook at home.  There were potatoes in an anchovy sauce, of which I ate far too much, my tummy grumbling afterwards, but it was well worth it.  Lots of raw vegetables, cooked roots and leaves etc.  We had wine and pudding also.  This was something I was not expecting in such quantity and variety, certainly a wonderful treat.

All in all the event was wonderful and good value.  I had gone with the anticipation of walking away with an increasing level of knowledge of foraging that would enable me perhaps re-create the walk and find my own wild foods or indeed find wild foods elsewhere.  However we returned empty handed but I fear this was due to the season and the weather.

The passion and knowledge from Claudio was infectious and inspiring.  He clearly has a wonderful talent and knowledge base to share.  The food blew me away and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk.  I walked away with a full belly and an increasing understanding of the plight of the local area by the rising water levels and interesting bits and pieces about the local trees and garlic!

I am not sponsored to write these articles, I write them for the pure enjoyment and to spread news about events in the local area.

If you wish to see more events available at Petersham, please click here:- Petersham Nurseries Events

© Justine Nagaur

Fiesta Friday #32 oh my its blackberry ice cream with a difference!

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Great blackberry ice cream recipe with blackberries foraged locally! It’s truly delicious

Eclectic odds n sods

Fiesta Friday #32

 Oh my its blackberry ice cream with a difference!

Seeing that this is the first time I have ever made ice cream I do feel rather proud of myself, even if i say that myself which I know I am not supposed to.  Now I need a gold star, or should I wait to see if you will give me a gold star?

So getting this blackberry ice cream ready involved sourcing the lovely little things who are copiously protected by thorns galore, I even ended up tearing my brand new scarf in the quest for this scrumptious delicasy.

This recipe was taken from Nigella Lawson

So what do you think, will you try it?

Happy Fiestering and I hope your having lots of vino and champers and of course food, now to see what you all cooked up, always a treat for moi!

Justine x


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My first proper walk in 2014 in East Sheen

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My First Proper Walk of the Year 2014 – East Sheen – Jan

Yes, I have to confess due to various reasons and reasonable ones, today I took my first proper walk of 2014, it was of course in East Sheen being my home place and it would only be honorary to take my first steps here, in the vicinity of Palewell Common.

I’ve been sheltering indoors hiding from the rain, the thought of coming home with sodden feet and dripping layers too much.  I must be a fair weather walker, not entirely but it’s all a state of mind and that is where mine has been of late.

But this morning the sun was shining like a bright spring day, its rays luring me with beckoning fingers to go bask in its gloriousness. I got reeled in and took the bait, donned my new trainers, scarf, gillet and fingerless mitts, not forgetting of course Iphone with entrusted selection of appropriate music and sunnies.

I will say, I overdressed, scarf came off by the end of the walk as did gloves and yes a horrible dribble of sweat ensued down my back taunting me the silent words of “Miss sweaty might become Miss stinky now”

It was bliss to walk past the budding magnolia trees.  This tree became an obsession of mine last year, determined to get one in my front garden.  There is one down the street where I live which literally makes me stop walking every time, once in full bloom, just to take in its radiant pinks and silken looking petals.

A little further Palewell Common was looking rather like a mud quagmire but did this stop the dog walkers?  Indeed not, they were out in full force, I would say  more professional walkers than otherwise judging by the amount of dogs per person, unless East Sheen has taken to owning 7 dogs per household.  I shudder to think of the smells and chaos that would create, I have two and that is certainly enough to make a pungent house of doggy smells.

I had to smile seeing a small gathering of nursery children out on the grass, the activity seemingly being to run from one adult to another, I did rather question how long they would stay upright running on such wet mud strewn ground.  I expect lots of dirty knees and if not faces would have been had by the end of it had I not moved on.  It doesn’t really pay in this day and age to stand and watch children, much as a joy it is, it can gather you odd looks if you are on your own.

The allotments seemed uncharacteristically quiet; I enjoy seeing how these develop over the weeks so many visual treats to come.

Last year I started to forage, yes forage.  You might raise your eyebrows and think alright, time to stop reading now; this is a very nerdy woman.  But I will have you know that this hobby is becoming increasingly popular, so much so there are organised walks for people to learn about foraging and books in numerous quantities on the subject.

Apart from this there is a wealth of You Tube clips on what to do with these wondrous berries, leaves etc that one has spent hours picking, leaping to get, scratching oneself to bits to acquire.  Suffice to say, I probably had one success in about 10 attempts of trying to make jellies, jams, pickles and chutneys.  Will I give it another go this year, probably, yes, but I have enough experience to know what I definitely won’t try again.  Will I tell you what that is?  Hell, no (grins), that’s part of the fun to find out for yourself!

More on foraging another time.  Do I hear a yay?

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