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  • Michael

#0016: A King's Ramsons

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

One of the things I love about the Secret Coast is that it evokes vivid memories of my childhood.

The landscape recalls school holidays on the Isle of Mull.

The smell in the air when I run through the west glen takes me right back to weekends camping at Beezley Farm in Ingleton. We'd wash ourselves under the tap in the corner of the farmyard and then, after breakfast, my dad would take my sister and me across the stepping stones, where we would swim in the river, under the waterfalls. A fearless six year old, I would jump from rocks into the plunge pools, whilst the older kids leapt from the trees, diving for crayfish to cook on the fire that evening.

Another favourite place for adventures with my dad was Malham in the Yorkshire Dales. In particular, Janet's Foss, a tufa cone waterfall in a mossy gully, carpeted with wild garlic, otherwise know as ramsons. I was utterly captivated by the legend of Janet, queen of the fairies, who made her home in the cave behind the falls. I would daydream of living with the fairies in that little cave. Of perhaps one day becoming their king.

In the springtime, the air at Janet's Foss is heavy with the scent of ramsons, their dark, glossy leaves turning the landscape almost impossibly green. Their white flowers glowing like little jewels.

I've written before about using my garden to remember. Amongst other things, I planted ramsons at the cottage so as not to forget these particular adventures with my dad. Now, every spring, I'm transported back to Janet's Foss. To exploring with my dad. To living with the fairies.

Whilst it's young and fresh, ramsons makes for a great ingredient to cook with. Add it to salads. Use it for garlic butter. One of my favourite, and easiest, ways to use ramsons is in a simple pesto.

Take one part walnuts, one part finely grated parmesan, two parts freshly picked ramsons leaves and two-and-a-half parts olive oil, and blitz them together in the blender, adding a little more oil if needed. I make it as I need it, but if you cover it with oil in a jar, it should keep in the fridge for a few weeks.

Stir it through pasta, use it to accompany steak, or eat it with freshly baked smoked sea salt and rosemary sourdough, with a glass of chilled Touraine. However you use it, it just goes to show that with a little foraging, we can all feast like kings.

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