It helps to have an open mind on the Foraging and Wild Cookery course run by the School of Artisan Food. Five minutes in and I’m already licking sweet, sweet aphid excrement off a leaf. As a by-product of the insect’s insatiable appetite for tree sap, it's actually very moreish.
We continue to meander through the Welbeck Estate picking, tasting, searching, sharing and chatting with our trusty guide, whose knapsack contains all manner of syrups, salts, seeds, tinctures and spirits.
An educational, hands-on experience, we learnt a lot and tasted many wild things, some of them a revelation - you can eat daisies. I wish I’d have known this when I was a young terror; imagine the anguish I could have caused to my nursery adversaries by whipping their daisy crown from their head and just eating it in front of them, stone-faced, as they wept.
We happen upon an elderflower - which many of you may have foraged to make a lovely cordial; how incredibly mainstream of you. Elderflower tequila is where it’s at, and our course leader produced some from her bag, letting us indulge in one (or two) sprays from the tequila atomiser.
Back at the ranch we are treated to a hearty meal using produce from the estate, and we set about cooking some of our haul, including wild garlic soup, herb pasta and spruce tea. We even got the opportunity to learn how to make our own ice-cream. The process involved hand churning a mix of full-fat and skimmed milk with elderflower in a zip-lock bag, that we then placed in a second bag containing ice and salt, which, as we found out, helps reduce the melting temperature of the ice.
The school runs a wide variety of courses to suit the most adventurous cooks, budding business people starting out in the catering industry and those who simply want to make lovely cakes. Highly recommended for any foodie. Oh, and check out the farm shop on the way out too.
£145 for a full day. School of Artisan Food, Welbeck Estate, S80 3LR