I’ll probably always associate wild garlic with St. Anne’s Park. The park is the first place I ever saw it, or saw it when I knew I was seeing it. I’m the kind of person who can notice a slight garlic aroma on a walk and not really wonder where it’s coming from. Bill, on the other hand, scented it like a herbivore beagle, picked some strappy leaves and proceeded to pesto it. We didn’t notice the garlic until a little late that year, so the following spring Bill watched for the little shoots and waited patiently until it was big enough to eat.

So it’s only fitting that wild garlic brought us to St. Anne’s Park a few weeks with a group from Slow Food Dublin. We were on an urban foraging expedition that would culminate in a lunch celebrating green things plucked from park lanes. We were being hosted by Tom O’Connell of O’Connells who had fed us breakfast and accompanied us on the bus ride to the park. He had already procured loads of wild garlic, but we picked up some nettles and some Alexanders to take back for our lunch. [Note that it is possibly illegal to forage in parks, so like, don't tell nobody.]

Talking about Alexander

Ladybugs are called Ladybirds in Ireland. By any name, they are not afraid of nettles.

 

Upon return to O’Connells, Chef Udo Wittman demonstrated making several dishes with wild garlic–a potato and wild garlic soup and a beet, wild garlic & goats cheese salad. Chef Udo was great, giving us lots of information and laughs. Two things I found interesting: the tiny nettle leaves can be eaten raw with no treatment (yikes!) and that urban honey is more flavorful because of the variety of flowers.

Chef Udo grates beet for our salad

And then then the best part–lunch!

Our menu:

Wild Garlic Soup
Charcoal Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb with Wild Garlic Champ, Sauteed Nettles and Alexanders Gratin
Irish Country Rubarb Cake with Whipped Cream

Chef Udo's garlic soup was scrumptious, drizzled with some wild garlic and parsley in oil

The lamb was terrific. O'Connells has a charcoal grill that provides a wonderful flavor to the grilled meats.

The sauteed nettles were a revelation--so tasty, and it takes just a minute of cooking to remove the sting.

The Alexanders' celery-like flavor was delicious in the gratin.

A fantastic meal–and we had earned it by strolling through the park and looking so intently at plants!

Several folks shared some harrowing nettles stories from childhood, but I think every one agreed that nettles can indeed be food. And Bill and I learned about Dock leaves that always grow near nettles and are supposed to neutralize the sting. Tom and Chef Udo were such great hosts, our companions were lovely and the sun shown on us. A fantastic outing.

As it turns out, Bill, Dad and I were back in St. Anne’s today picking wild garlic and nettles for our Easter dinner. Bill used the garlic to stuff the lamb, and he’ll hopefully recreate the magic of the sauteed nettles.

Bill picking wild garlic for our Easter dinner

 

 

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14 Responses to Wild Garlic

  1. david says:

    It was a great day, and lovely to meet you both… I note from the first photograph above that I am just out of shot – busy on the forage!

  2. Oh! That looked like so much fun!! I love the pictures. Everything looks delicious and Bill is his adorable self in a field of wild garlic. :)

  3. Kristin says:

    I went out hunting for wild garlic yesterday in a forest where I’d been told it could be found, but no luck. I’ll be trying again next weekend in another forest! I’m hoping to pick more nettles for a pesto as well.

    • Sharon says:

      I can’t get over how tasty nettles are. I always thought nettle soup and nettle tea would taste like something you know is really good for you, but really don’t want to eat. But they are delish!

      Good luck with the Wild Garlic. If all else fails…Raheny!

  4. Alan O says:

    I am planning on talking my young kid for a walk in St. Anne’s Park on Sunday. Where could I find the wild garlic in the Park? My kid loves to pick her own food!

    Alan

    • Bill says:

      Alan,

      It’s along the path between the duck pond and the pitch on the coast road–the one lined with horse chestnuts. There’s loads. Be sure not to pull up the plants but just snip leaves, and not too many in any one place.

      Happy foraging,

      Bill

  5. Stef says:

    Would be very interested to try those Alexanders! Wonder if there’s any in the Phoenix Park…

  6. Stef says:

    Turns out there’s tons of them lining the banks of the Grand Canal. Picked a few this morning, very interesting aniseed flavour when raw. Will cook them tonight and see what they’re like with some butter.

    • Sharon says:

      Yeah, once you know what they are you see them everywhere. I had mussels in a place in London that were cooked with Alexanders in the place of celery. Worked great.

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