Soon after I was introduced into the world of foraging, picking edible mushrooms and herbs in the woods, seashore foraging was added to my bucket list. Fortunately for us, our hosts provided us with the perfect opportunity and armed with a couple of plastic bags we made our way down the beach in search of mussels.
Our host led us to his usual mussel-picking spot: a little sandy cove flanked by seaweed-covered rocks on either side. It was a real seafood cornucopia, so the only tricky thing about our mussel hunt was resisting the temptation to pick too many of them! That and not losing our footing on the slippery seaweed and slamming our face into the rocks.
Sometimes the mussels were hiding beneath big veils of slimy seaweed, which we just had to lift up to reveal tons of hidden treasures. We tried to limit ourselves to the biggest mussels, leaving the smaller ones alone in order to give them a chance of survival.
As we had to divide them between five people, we decided to gather about a hundred of these beauties. Foraging is all about knowing when to stop and we made sure there were still thousands left on the rocks.
We went down to another stretch of beach to get some of this lovely green vegetable called sea beet. Naturally salty, this green leaf is the seashore equivalent of spinach and can be used in much the same way.
We put the mussels in water and the next day we pulled off their beards (sorry, mussels) and scrubbed them clean.
Cooked in white wine, fresh parsley, onion and garlic, they were beautifully tender and sweet. We ate the mussels with our bare hands and used a pin to pull the winkles out of their shells. Some of these mussels had created little pearls, which were lovely to look at but a lot less fun when I unsuspectingly crunched them between my teeth!