Why do so many Michelin Star chefs feature wild foods on their menus? The Wild Honey Inn, Lisdoonvarna – the first pub in Ireland to receive a Michelin star – features wild foods that are generally sourced locally.
Woodlands and forests are ideal habitats for wild foods, but you need to know where to look. The Irish Timber Growers Association (ITGA) have teamed up with the Irish Forestry Unit Trust (IForUT) to host a woodland food foraging and fungal foray in Clonad woodlands outside Tullamore on Saturday 28 September.
With funding assistance from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), visitors can discover mushrooms and hazelnuts for soups and a variety of risotto and lasagne dishes. There will be talks on wild deer, forest preserves, woodland medicinal herbs and honey production.
Leading the walk will be Mary Bulfin, well known forager, chef, author and maker of the Wild Damson & Beech Leaf liqueurs. Bernard Gibney of Gibney’s Garden Preserves , who has sourced spruce tips and wild woodland garlic when adding to natural preserves, will team up with Mary to demonstrate their favourite woodland food produce. They will also host a live woodland cooking demonstration and tasting.
Clonad Wood is well known for its wood and non-wood approach. It is the first woodland in Ireland to achieve FSC Forest Certification. IForUT has facilitated Dr Emma Sheehy in her ground breaking research on the relationship between populations of red and grey squirrel and the pine marten.
More recently, a demonstration of biomass harvesting was held in Clonad, where the brash, branches and tree tops were harvested in addition to the usual timber felling.
IForUT also plan to make Clonad timber available for an engineered wood construction project. Engineered wood has high strength, stability and rigidity which allows it to be used in mid- and high-rise construction.
To take a walk on the wild side, book your place for free on eventbrite.ie (https://www.eventbrite.ie/forest-food-woodland-walk-to-clonad-forest-tickets). There are limited places so book early.
Donal Whelan is the Technical Director of ITGA.