Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finding food on Bruny

I know it might be hard to believe, but every now and again I have an urge to escape this idyllic life a I'm living and get away from it all. Last weekend I did just that, not so far away that I couldn't still see Mount Wellington from my window, but far enough that my mind was free to wander as it wished.

And, as always, it wandered to plants and food, often to both at the same time. I'd decided to try doing some proper cooking with wild edible plants, rather than my usual curious nibble on a walk. It was a perfect weekend, still and sunny with incredible views of Hartz and Adamson's Peak covered in a stunning helping of snow.

I caught myself a cod and some kindhearted fishermen must've taken me for a hopeless fisherperson and gave me a couple of fish from their catch. I gathered a little Seablite, Suaedea australis, from near the jetty. Then I wandered back to the shack (thanks so much Peter and family!) pulled some Sagg, Lomandra longifolia, stems and tried cooking with these plants that I'd only eaten raw in the out doors before. I blanched the Seablite for a few seconds, it is seriously salty, and finished it in the pan with my fish. I broke up the bases of the Lomandra stems and squashed them hard onto the base of the pan where I was frying up the tail of my rock cod. And, if I do say so myself, it was damn fine! The salty Seablite was spot on with the sweet cod, and the Lomandra, well that was a mixed success. The flavour of the pieces that were crisp or tender enough to eat, was fantastic! However it was lucky I was eating alone, as much of it was too fibrous to swallow. I reckon the right method of preparation could get this great flavour onto plates without the need for spitting...

Seablite, Suaeda australis.

Rock cod, Sagg and Seablite.

When my weekend of solitude was almost over I went for a ramble on the beach at Great Bay. Below you'll find photos of some of the wonderful wild edible plants that have been sustaining Tasmanians for thousands of years, but which many of us are yet to experience, oh and perhaps one more modern food, unique to Bruny Island, that any forager would be hard pressed to resist......

As always, when collecting plants from the wild, especially on the shore, remember that these plants are often habitat for breeding sea birds, and are vitally important for slowing coastal erosion, so gather only a little and watch your step. And always ensure you've correctly identified any wild plant before eating it. Please take a look at the warnings on this post before venturing out for a forage.

Sagg, Lomandra longifolia. Edible leaf bases, nectar and apparently seed can be ground for flour.

Sea celery, Apium prostratum.

Samphire, Sarcocornia sp. Most of this had recently died,
perhaps from inundation in a recent storm.

Coast wattle/Boobyalla, Acacia sophorae. Edible seeds, roasted while green.

Dianella brevicaulis, edible blue berries.

Carpobrotus rossii. When you find the right patch, the fruit are delicious, leaves are edible too.

Coast saltbush, Atriplex cinerea. Edible foliage, and a rather gorgeous plant.
Ice plant, Tetragonia implexicoma. Use as a green vegetable.

Oen, from Bruny Island Cheese Factory. With foraged Damson paste and rat tailed radishes.

We'll be at Tas Farm Gate this Sunday, the 24th of July. Hope to see you there!