Since moving to Cape Point eleven years ago, Roushanna Gray has immersed herself in nature, first setting up a tea garden at the Cape Point Nursery owned by her mother-in-law Gael Gray, and later developing her popular Veld and Sea foraging workshops. Participants are taken on a fascinating journey of discovery where they explore nearby rock pools and the pristine mountain surrounds, unearthing the edible treasures that these environments have to offer.
What exactly is foraging?
Foraging is a great way of getting outdoors and collecting, gathering or picking wild ingredients straight from nature. Ingredients can range from aromatic fynbos found in the Cape to acorns and mushrooms in the forests, edible weeds and flowers from your garden, seaweeds and shellfish from the coast and even feral fennel that can be found alongside the road.
How have your Veld and Sea foraging classes developed?
I started off with holiday classes for kids, inspired by how excited and empowered my own children were to eat the food that they had foraged, harvested and prepared themselves. In the kids’ classes, we use wild herbs, edible flowers, and garden vegetables to make scones and pizzas. I then took the concept a step further and developed the adult foraging classes, which are a more complex experience, yet retain the interactive, multi-sensory elements of gathering, preparing and sharing a meal. Our current program offers seasonal and sustainable foraging classes and workshops, with outside teachers who run a host of exciting art, craft and food inspired events.
Spring must be an exciting season for you – what are you expecting to see and eat, both in the surf and on the turf?
It’s a very inspiring season – as the landscape changes visually, so do the flavours. It’s all about the flowers and fresh spring garden produce in the Veld and Sea classroom this season. Beautiful edible flowers are abundant, such as the indigenous creeper Dipogon lignosus with its pinky mauve flowers. At the coast, the rock pool seaweeds are still recovering from the harsh winter storms, so we leave them to regenerate and only resume our coastal foraging in early summer. But there is plenty of agar-agar seaweed that has been washed up on shore, perfectly timed for light floral desserts.
What are some easy ‘man on the street’ ways to introduce edible flowers and bulbs and the like into our food?
I am strongly against foraging indigenous bulbs as it is not sustainable, unless you’ve grown the bulbs in your garden. Tulbaghia Violacea (wild garlic) is the best wild flavour to start with, as it’s easy to grow and the whole plant is edible – you can use the white roots as a pungent garlic, the strappy green leaves as chives and the pretty purple flowers make a lovely mild garlicky garnish. You can grow edible flowers in your garden, or on your balcony and windowsills.
Tell us about some of your edible and liquid floral signatures?
It’s no secret that I will add flowers to anything! My edible flower rice paper spring roll recipe and seasonal botanical G&T’s are two of my favourite ways of showcasing flowers in food and drink. At the moment, wild jasmine has blossomed all around the gardens and makes for an incredible sensory experience when used as garnish in a drink.
What are some of the 2017/18 offerings at Veld and Sea that we should know about?
This Spring we’ll resume our Flower Workshops, Bridal Shower Floral Workshops, and a few special pop-up Wild Love Dinners. In Summer we will head to the coast for the much-anticipated return of Coastal Foraging. I am also very excited to announce a cookbook in the workings, entitled Fire and Flowers, that shares a collection of recipes, information and stories about wild flavours, foraging and of course, edible flowers.
Do you have any favourite Le Creuset products?
The Le Creuset brand has that perfect combination of being both aesthetically beautiful and super practical. I also love the look of the new Ocean range – the colour is so gorgeous and immediately conjures up images of seaside feasts. My favorite item is my Zen Kettle in Cool Mint which I use every day.
What’s your approach to colour?
Diversity is the way to go in in your garden, on your plate, and in your colour palette! Colours can affect your mood and evoke emotions, we also eat with our eyes first – so I would definitely go for a range of colours.
If you would like to join a foraging mission with Roushanna Gray, visit her Veld and Sea website for more information, or follow her on Instagram.