As featured on Countryfile.com
This delightful, tender vegetable is hard to describe but imagine a salty combination of asparagus and green beans and you’re almost there. It grows in abundance in marshes and muddy sea flats, and is often a nourishing treat for curious grazing salt marsh lambs.
Where: The salt marshes at Portmeirion Village, North Wales
When: The summer months of June to September
How to serve it: Samphire is brilliant with fish, and is delicious served fresh with king prawns and a squeeze of lemon juice, or lightly fried in olive oil as an accompaniment to a fillet of Welsh sea bass.
STAY: Hotel Portmeirion & Castell Deudraeth is set on its own private peninsula, and overlooks sand, sea and mountain. Samphire grows in abundance on the salt marshes, and guests staying in the village can enjoy breathtaking views of Tremadog Bay.
Wales has the ideal climate for growing edible wild mushrooms. Chanterelles, porcinis and wood blewits are all available in late summer and early autumn, and are distinctive from each other in both appearance and flavour. However, we strongly recommend only undertaking wild mushroom foraging with an expert guide.
Where: Woodland and river banks
When: between August and November
How to serve them: Chanterelles and wood blewits are delicious simply fried in butter and served on toast with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Porcinis can be dried and rehydrated for a deep and intense flavour in risotto and pasta dishes.
STAY: The Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells, mid Wales, runs half-day guided mushroom foraging tours for hotel guests and visitors. Tours are available throughout the summer and include a tasting session and preserving demonstration.
Pembrokeshire’s mussels are small and distinctively sweet in flavour. You can forage for them on the coastline during autumn and early winter, following the famous rule of only harvesting them during the months ending in ‘R’.
Where: Solva beach in Pembrokeshire at low tide
When: best between September and December when the mussels are fully grown and full of the subtle, sweet flavour of the Irish Sea.
How to serve them: Lightly steam in butter, olive oil, and garlic, followed by a good glug of white wine and a dash of cream.
STAY: Warpool Court Hotel is located in the historical city of St. David’s, and sits just three miles along the coast from Solva in Pembrokeshire.
When visiting Wales’ coastal regions, it’s only right that budding foragers should try a taste of the unique Welsh marine delicacy at its source – laver. There are numerous varieties of edible seaweed on offer, but the high iodine and iron content of laver gives it a subtle and distinctive flavour of the sea.
Where: Penclawdd, Gower Peninsula, Swansea
When: Best in September to December
How to serve it: Laverbread requires considerable cooking time before it’s ready to eat, but boiling it for 10 hours does appear to enhance its flavour. Once cooked, roll in oats and fry in bacon fat for traditional laverbread. You can also add it to soups and stews for a subtle seaside kick.
STAY: Fairyhill Hotel is located just minutes from the Gower Peninsula, where access to bays, beaches and cliffs are aplenty. Visitors can wander down to any of the intertidal beaches in the Gower and will find the purple-black laver leaves strewn over rocks.
Wild garlic grows in damp, fertile soil and therefore thrives in the Welsh climate. Follow your nose when you walk into any forest or stream bank in late spring and you will find a plethora of brilliant green leaves. Although the leaves only grow in spring, they freeze well and can be added to dishes straight from the freezer as a seasoning all year round.
Where: by the edges of streams and rivers in South and West Wales
When: between March and June
How to serve it: fresh in a salad for a garlicky hit, or fried in a little olive oil and mixed with sautéed green vegetables
STAY: Llanerch Vineyard is located just outside Cardiff on the M4. Only 15 minutes drive away is the famous Victorian masterpiece, Castell Coch and Fforest Fawr, in which you will find an abundance of wild garlic growing everywhere you turn – don’t forget to bring a pair of scissors and a bag for collecting the leaves.