Maven, situated on the Lisburn Road, is a beautiful interior design shop celebrating both local and Scandinavian creatives. Once a month they showcase various crafts through their hands-on sessions.
At the beginning of autumn Maven hosted an evening of foraging with Mary and Dermot Hughes of Forage Ireland. I’ve always been interested in foraging but lack the knowledge and perhaps confidence to gather anything other than wild garlic, blackberries and maybe a bit of elderflower. We didn’t have to stray too far to begin our foraging expedition, just across the road in fact to Drumglass Park. I didn’t think we’d come back with much more than blackberries so I was completely bemused when, just through the gates of the park Dermot was already pulling up “weeds” getting us to feel, smell and taste the likes of dandelion leaves and chickweed.
In the midst of our small group’s delight to see so many sweet ripe blackberries Dermot managed to rescue our attention to point out rowan berries, elder berries and rose hips. Thankfully he also helped us identify plants and berries to avoid!
Back at Maven Mary took over the hosting to show us her simple recipe for soda bread – and not a weighing scale in sight! After an aperitif of Dermot’s sloe gin we tucked into the warm farls topped with Mary and Dermot’s foraged jams, marmalades and preserves – the blackberry and apple jellies were particularly good.
Whilst enjoying the fruits of our labour Mary fascinated us with stories of her baking and foraging past and of Dermot’s interesting geology background. I could have listened to them all night. Foraging isn’t limited to food as Mary demonstrated with her shawls and blankets made from foraged tweed, buttons and wool, with proceeds from sales going to Children of Syria.
It was a really lovely evening of food and community which completely encompassed the ethos of Forage Ireland – enlighten and empower.
If you would like to find out more about foraging or try out a few foraged recipes take a look at the Forage Ireland website, you’ll also find info on any upcoming events or why not get in contact with them to arrange your own foraging excursion.