No-one knows how old Mugdock Castle is but it dates back to at least the 1300s. Now an imposing ruin surrounded by country trails through forests and fields, the fading outline of the gardens above the loch remains.

Added in the 1830s, today the once orderly setting, enclosed by stone walls, is disguised by a riot of wild flowers and unruly bushes. We’re here to give the tangle of plant life a closer look.

HeraldScotland:

The staff from The Gannet restaurant in Finnieston, Glasgow, have just completed a foraging course walk across Mugdock Park and are surveying their haul.

Common valerian, girolles mushrooms, meadowsweet, hazel, hawthorn, wood sage, nettle, blueberries. We are close to the start of the West Highland Way in Milngavie, where the urban edge around Glasgow meets the Great Outdoors. Potential ingredients for a park picnic barbecue are at hand if you know where to look.  

Sam Worrall would usually be foraging for wild mushrooms, seaweed or edible flowers to supply to top kitchens in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London on behalf of Coeur Sauvage, founded by Maxime Jay. Today he’s our guide to Scotland’s countryside larder.

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The fresh Milngavie girolles are prepped and tossed in a heated pan with some butter, to go alongside steaks that are cooking on a charcoal grill.

The Gannet’s head chef Peter McKenna is shucking oysters that will be decorated with flowers and some berries. A glass of forest negroni, infused with foraged ingredients, is offered.

“When we started The Gannet we didn’t see anywhere that was really making that connection with farms and producers. We want the whole team to have the same ethos so we will take them foraging or go to MacDuff butchers, bring them to the farms where we get our pork and lamb or the garderns where we get our vegetables and help out with the harvest.

"I think it’s important to know where the ingredients come from and to take some pride in how lucky we are to have that” Peter says.

HeraldScotland:

The Gannet work with foragers to supply the highest possible grade of wild ingredients, something Peter sees as adding an often-overlooked flavour of Scotland to his dishes.

“Once you get into the herbs and fauna, understand their different characteristics, your palette starts to explode.

"It has really changed the way I cook. We had a bit of an open door policy at The Gannet and we’d have guys coming in with bags of sea plants, seeds and blossoms.

"All these natural flavours from across the country. We embrace it because it is part of what is around us.”

The influence goes beyond the food as foraged infusions are a key component of the cocktails at the restaurant, you can spot the glass bottles above the bar with spirits combined with Scottish botanicals.

The tasting menu at The Gannet currently features dishes including cured halibut with radish, oyster and verjus; smoked eel and girolle broth; organic duck, greenheart beetroot, potato and rose.

HeraldScotland:

“There’s an element of wild ingredients in every course, it’s exciting. Flavour is paramount but I’ve always enjoyed the artistic part of it.

"I like to start off with seafood and I have all these infusions and fermentations I can use. We are in the city but we have that connection to the land.

"Our relationship with foragers has opened my eyes to Scotland’s natural bounty.”

The Gannet is at 1155 Argyle St, Finnieston, Glasgow G3 8TB. To find out more about foraged Scottish ingredients, contact Coeur Sauvage. Additional photography by Sonya Walos. This feature appeared in the August edition of Best of Scotland magazine.