When I first arrived in Granada in the middle of January a few years ago, I quickly started spotting common mallow (Malva sylvestris) growing all over the place, often forming wide sprawling mats of greenery on the edges of farmland and even inside the grounds of a ruined castle.
While exploring ideas for wild plant based cocktails to serve at the end of a private foraging course, I came up with this recipe for a foraged tonic water that has the added bonus of being a great non-alcoholic drink on its own. Based on willow bark as a replacement for cinchona, it can be gathered and made in about an hour, and keeps well if you want to stock up on a batch.
I cooked up this dish back in February when the snow and frosts were making foraging rather difficult. Walking in my local park in London the only plants that seemed to have enough foliage for me to take a little bit were Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) and Crow garlic (Allium vineale).
Sweet violet (Viola odorata) Violet flowers first sprung up in London well over a month ago, and have doggedly persisted ever since, refusing to accept that spring is late in arriving. Frost hardy to -7°C, the unique colouration of their flowers make them easy to spot at this time of year amongst the sparsely populated…