Lighter mornings and brighter evenings are a welcome sight every spring but it is only when the first wild garlic leaves start to sprout that I feel that gentler weather is really pushing winter to one side. Follow your nose through the dappled shaded areas on a walk near a river bank, and the unmistakeable garlic aroma will guide you to the dark green clumps of wild garlic ready to be snipped with scissors. We wilt leaves in a little butter and salt as a bed to venison or beef in the restaurant or we make a powerful pesto to toss new potatoes in. A little goes a long way, so even a few leaves can transform the everyday into something pungent and exciting.
Wild garlic is one of the most easily identifiable of wild herbs you might forage for. We also pick leaves like golden saxifrange, wild leeks and, one of my favourites for its sweet carrot like flavour, frilly rock samphire. Picking mushrooms is a job to be approached carefully because of the risk of poisonous funghi. A guide , or trustworthy book, is essential. At this time of year, you might be lucky to spot the vivid red of scarlet elf cap mushrooms. Unquestionably one of my favourites, these are the first of the springtime mushrooms to appear, adding a vivid shot of colour and elegant flavour to spring time dishes, making a March-time walk and a little foraging expedition a truly rewarding trek.