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Edible Leeds: The Magic of Seaweed at Salvos

After hosting the Anglesey Forage Weekend (July 22nd/23rd), alongside my friend and fellow foraging tutor, Jesper Launder, I stayed on Anglesey to grab some down time and to prepare for the upcoming 'Magic of Seaweed' event at, Mondo Piccolo at, Salvos Salumeria, in Headingley. I had seaweeds to gather, fish to catch and coastal herbs to collect for the evenings menu. After returning to Leeds on the Wednesday, I arrived at Salvos on the Thursday morning and spent the day prepping for the evenings event - I did manage to squeeze a quick 40 minute forage in in the late afternoon to gather some extra herbs and flowers to accompany the evenings dishes; always time for a quick forage...

The evening began with a short talk on seaweeds including where and how to forage for them, lunar cycles and tides, health and nutritional benefits, their effects on human brain development and evolution (science theory based) and the fun bit, how to preserve, prepare and eat various species found around the UK coastline. After this we moved onto the evenings 6 course tasting menu; actually this was the fun bit...

I've been using seaweeds in cooking for a couple of years now and have enjoyed immensely, exploring various preserving techniques (drying/pickling/fermenting/brewing etc) and experimenting with different kinds of dishes they can be added to, some dishes have been more complex regarding technique but overall I prefer to keep it simple; seaweeds are great in this respect. Apart from serving the odd simple dish on my coastal foraging courses, this was the first time I've served and showcased a 6 course seaweed themed menu. Huge thanks to, Ian Green, Manager at the Salumeria for inviting me along to host this event and for his support throughout the evening, helping to plate up and serve with me and for remaining ever vigilant and attentive to the customers' other requirements throughout and thanks for pushing me to showcase/serve my food to a wider audience.

1. Mackerel Sashimi. This dish was served with pickled sea spaghetti, common sorrel, yarrow, herb robert flower, sea arrowgrass seeds and meadowsweet vinegar. I'd caught the mackerel while on Anglesey, some of them from a sea kayak (first time I've done that and highly recommended) and some while fishing from rocks near Rhoscolyn (one of my favourite locations). The fish was as fresh as you like and perfect for serving sashimi style. A vegetarian option was also available using courgette in place of the mackerel. Vegetarian dishes will be included at the foot of this article/list.

2. Mackerel Ceviche. I prepped the ceviche several hours before serving, each fish was filleted, pin boned, skinned and chopped, placed in a bowl with the juice of four citrus fruits: lemon, lime, pink grapefruit and orange, I also added fennel, sea arrowgrass and some douglas fir sugar to the mix. Prior to serving I blanched some marsh samphire, cooled it and chopped it fine, this was then added to the ceviche along with some fresh chopped arrowgrass, and japanese rose petals, this was then served on a nest of pickled sea spaghetti and common sorrel.

3. Foraged Miso Soup w/ Smoked Fish. My second task of the day was preparing the dashi stock which requires at least 5 hours cooling and infusing time (or at least I feel it does). I added dried kelp, serrated wrack, dulse and some dried penny bun fungus to 5 litres of spring water, brought it slowly to approx 60-70 degrees, removed it from the heat and left it to cool. I'd have loved to have added some of my cured mackerel to the stock but knew a couple of vegetarians were attending that evening. I've made different versions of this on my coastal foraging courses and it always goes down a treat, it's hearty, nourishing and above all, tasty - even cures foggy hangover heads apparently...

4. Egg, Fermented Pepper Dulse, Lacto Ramson, 5 Seaweed Powder, Smoked Oyster Mushroom Powder. This was a random creation about 8 months ago, I'd been playing with acorn flour, pickled fish and other items (not necessarily blending them all together mind) and had seen an egg dish with dulse seaweed by Thorkil Degn Johansson, inspired, I went with the flow one evening and created this, it's unusual but it works, care required with the fermented pepper dulse (it's a salty affair) but the depth and richness of flavour the seaweed provides is exceptional, all the other elements provide a range of flavour profiles that benefit the dish too - I like to eat it in one go...

5. Cheese and Crackers. The Salumeria is home to some exquisite, artisanal, Italian products, meats, cheeses, pastries etc and the gorgonzola dolce, Ian presented, is one of the most delicious cheeses I've ever tasted, the sweet pickled serrated wrack and kelp accompanies this cheese perfectly and the seaweed and caraway seed crackers play tune beautifully. Unfortunately, this is the only dish Ian didn't picture, once we've got time, we'll reproduce it, picture it and I'll pop it on here...

6. Panna Cotta with Meadowsweet, Vanilla, Ginger Crumb, Black Cherry and Nori. This dessert was set using dried carrageen powder instead of gelatine. Various elements were inspired by different experiments and conversations I've been having. On leaving Leeds at the end of June I happened across some stunning black cherries and while on the road popped them into a jar with some Botanist Gin, a week into that trip, I found some beautiful meadowsweet and added that to the jar, the resultant liquor is pretty rocking (if I do say so myself), black cherries and meadowsweet are a happy marriage. While hosting the Anglesey Forage Weekend, I was showing some of the group meadowsweet flowers and showing them the top notch blossoms from the not-so-top-notch-blossoms, a conversation on it's uses was sparked and recipe ideas spouted forth, I'm into the idea of making a meadowsweet cheese cake, ginger crumb base, black cherry compote, this panna cotta is fusing those ingredients; the cheese cake will be forthcoming...

Vegetarian Sashimi.

As earlier mentioned, this dish used courgette in place of the mackerel, all other foraged ingredients remained the same.

Vegetarian Ceviche.

Aubergine was pickled in the same four citrus juices as the fish version, a
delicious artisanal balsamic vinegar was also added to this mix, all other foraged ingredients remained the same.

I'm really looking forward to hosting more events at Mondo Piccolo, at Salvos Salumeria. Mondo Piccolo events will be held on certain Thursday evenings and Sundays, themes include, dining events, talks, music. The venue is a great space, it has a modern yet rustic charm to it and it feels very warm, friendly and intimate.

Events I'll be hosting include:

Yorkshire Spice - a talk and tasting event exploring the wild foraged spices to be found in Yorkshire and around the UK. Dates for this event are yet to be confirmed.

Wild Booze - self explanatory and obviously revolving around foraged booze.

Wild Fungi - this event is in two parts: part one, a foraging walk exploring wild autumn fungi in the day time and then a three course wild fungi themed dinner back at the Salumeria in the evening (expect a few quirky extras thrown into the mix that evening).

For details of upcoming events I'll be hosting throughout the rest of the year visit:


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