Mixing Fine Dining with Bushcraft for an afternoon adventure
In late April the Nordic Outdoor team were invited out to Meiklerig Woods in East Lothian for a day of cooking and Bushcraft. We were lucky enough to be invited along by our hosts for the day by forager, teacher and wild pop up chef Alison Henderson and Dave Crosbie – founder of Tree-ditions Bushcraft School. This was the second event Alison and Dave have hosted and with a full calendar ahead of them we can’t wait to see what else is coming up.
Alison Henderson comes from a cooking and teaching background, originally from Ireland Alison trained and worked at renowned cookery school Ballymaloe in Shanagarry. Since moving to Scotland Alison has managed Colstoun Cookery School before moving on to host private and public foraging cookery workshops. Alison puts a focus on sustainable harvesting and the connection with nature that brings. Using foraged finds in the here and now and how to preserve them for use throughout the year, as much as possible in the great outdoors! To bring the Bushcraft connection into these unique pop-up events Alison has teamed up with Dave Crosbie who is the founder and owner of Tree-ditions Woodland Craft School. Dave facilitates top quality leisure and learning experiences for all in over 50 acres of beautiful East Lothian Woodland and is East Lothian’s premier Bushcraft, Survival, Green Woodworking and Wildlife training venue.
The day began with the sunshine beating down on the almost mystical looking Meiklerig woods which sit around 40 minutes outside of Edinburgh. Meeting the other attendants around a roaring campfire there is a chance for introductions and campfire coffee (along with a sneaky early morning cupcake!). After everyone has had the chance to chat and the Tentipi has been pitched in the woodlands its down to business. Dave starts by walking everyone through the essentials for starting the perfect fire before demonstrating his technique using the Light My Fire Firesteel and Tinder on a Rope. Having seen the professional at work it is then down to the attendees to forage the perfect wood and kindling to build a campfire and put their Firesteel to use. While the fires begin to take shape all around us Dave took the opportunity to teach everyone about what should be in your tinderbox and the best axes and knives for your Bushcraft adventures.
As the morning comes to an end and everyone is confident in their fire building skills the team congregate around the fire to create the perfect Bushcraft breakfast; eggs, bacon, toast and campfire beans and discuss the plan of action. With cooking in the outdoors it is not as simple as setting a fire and throwing on some slabs of meat (at least if you want to do it right!) and instead takes some preparation. The biggest task before the cooking began was to create a burning fire in a clay pit which would soon be the home to a stunning leg of Scottish lamb. With the fires roaring and the stones heating up to 500 degrees it was time for the real cooking and foraging to begin.
Our leg of lamb which was going to be cooked in an earth oven was wrapped in wild garlic leaves which we foraged from the surrounding woodland. With the lamb wrapped and the stones hot enough in the earth oven we began the cooking – putting the lamb in the earth oven before covering this with corrugated iron and clay earth to retain the heat and create a natural oven. With the lamb expected to take three hours we took the opportunity to begin working on our Salt baked Sea Bass, Celeriac and Beetroot. After mixing salt and egg whites we coated the fish and vegetable with the mixture before placing them in a ‘bin-can’ oven which Dave had dug into the earth.
With everything cooking away the team began whittling some wood for our hot smoked trout. Dave taught the team how to create a split stick, cross sticks and a tripod which would allow us to ‘ponass’ the fish. Using some Morakniv companion knives everyone got involved with whittling and before long our trout was smoking perfectly over an open fire alongside a Dutch Oven chicken and some Hay Baked Potatoes. With everything coming together perfectly the last steps were creating our foraged salad (containing Scots Lovage, Sweet Cicely and some Yarrow), Wild Garlic pesto and wild salsa verde.
As the food was extracted from their various ovens everyone got involved with carving, preparing and serving a serious woodland feast before tucking in with a cold beer! You can see some photos below alongside the menu from the event. Nordic Outdoor were delighted to be involved with such an event which blended our passion of Bushcraft and food and we cannot wait to be involved in future workshops run by Alison and Dave. You can find out more about the courses on their respective websites and pick up some key tools you’ll need to create your own Woodland feast in-store and Online at Nordic Outdoor!
On arrival: Primrose cupcakes, tea & coffee
Late morning Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, campfire beans and toasted sourdough bread
Starter: Hot smoked Sea trout; salt baked Sea bass; wild salsa verde; pickled radishes;
foraged salad leaves; fire cooked damper breadsticks
Main: Earth oven roast lamb with wild garlic; hay baked baby potatoes; salt baked celeriac
and beetroot; wild garlic pesto and homemade mint sauce