Lengthier days, emerging bluebells must spark a need to get the best out of springtime. In Ludlow, when I head outdoors, I often see at a distance, colourful tractors, moving steadily up and down planting crops like potatoes, creating furrows of chocolatey earth as they go. Dandelions and wild garlic are in abundance now and perfectly ready to pick and make something pleasing (as described in our guide to this seasonal plant). I think more about food as I watch the busyness of preparation of the land, provenance and local seasonal availability. So grateful, it is not difficult to purchase locally sourced dairy, fruit, salad and meat.
Additionally, I love the honesty boxes I see on my regular walks (this time of year, I take a string bag and spare change with me) for eggs and homemade jams. I also think about how to make the best of this bounty, cookbooks are great, but I like hands-on workshops are the best. They’re sociable, led by experts, and you tend to have a great meal.
An even more significant plus is the confidence gained from learning how to make bread, improve your knife skills, or create a gorgeous dish to impress friends and family at those gatherings we are all contemplating having in the post-lockdown world. Here is a sample of food and drink workshops/events in the area.
Cookery treasure trove
Colliers Cookery School, Clows Top, Worcestershire | beginning 24 April
Bookings go quickly at this cooking school, about a half-hour drive from Ludlow bordering Worcestershire. The courses are wide-ranging from dinner party cuisine, fish skills, baking, for kids, off to university, foraging, vegetarian cooking, knife skills and diverse cultural cuisines with top-end chefs. You can arrange private hire and gift a special day using vouchers. The owner, Harriet, emphasises seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Hurry, there are still a few places left on upcoming courses:Forage & Feast with Owen Raybould & Daren Bale; Persian Cuisine With Charlotte Pike, Creative Salads & Quick Suppers with Charlotte Pike – £120 , and Summer Entertaining with Steve Lyons.
All about the dough
Peter Cooks Bread, The Hop Pocket, Bishops Frome | beginning 1 May
The fantastic Peter Cooks Bread has bread workshop classes on the first and third Sunday of the month. You can enjoy a day learning to bake at their premises, The Hop Pocket in Bishops Frome. Award winner, Peter Cook, has close associations with Ludlow, having lived in the town and was on the Ludlow Food Festival committee in its early years. There are workshops aimed at beginners and anyone seeking to ‘perfect their loaf’. There are also workshops for more advanced breadmakers. You get to learn from a master baker, lunch and a box of bread. I know! Where to sign up? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place or buy a gift voucher. Alternatively, call them on 07400 695 978 to confirm dates.
Taking food slow
Slow Food with Harry Bullock, Petit Glou, Market Hall, Shrewsbury | 4 May
What is slow food, and what does it mean for our food and wine quality? A bit further afield, chef Harry Bullock of Evatt & Bullock Co. and Rich from Dick’s Market Garden and Micro Bakery are talking about their passion for using local produce. They will also talk about how the Slow Food ethos underpins the preparation of top quality food and wine. Buy event tickets.
Also calling all local drink and food producers, Slow Food Marches, is also hosting a business networking event to meet, mingle and learn more about the international movement. Free to go on 27 April but registration required.
Make mine a fine cider
Orchard Tour with Cider & Charcuterie Tasting, Fletchers Cider, Far Forest, Worcestershire | 1 May
You won’t be making cider, sorry, but you will be touring the orchards and cider barn at family-run craft cider producer Fletchers Cider at this other Slow Food event. Fletchers Cider has chemical-free traditional orchards – a haven for wildlife grazed with sheep. At this event, you can enjoy a cider tasting along with charcuterie from Shropshire Salumi with Will Macken, followed by a light afternoon tea of local produce. A long-standing family-run craft cider producer Fletchers Cider is in the heart of the Worcestershire countryside. With chemical-free traditional orchards that are a haven for wildlife and grazed with sheep, the hedgerows have been planted with native species, and bee hives help pollination. Buy event tickets.