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THE BIGGEST TREASURE HUNT
Wild Food – Wild Flavors
‘What is Modern Foraging? Simply stated, foraging means searching for food. This is not a new idea. Since ancient times, people have lived by hunting and gathering animals and plants for food. However, we learn from experience and innovation to adapt to changes in our environment, and our foraging techniques follow that pattern too. Usually, when someone said foraging, it meant in the wild or woods, but a modern definition would include other locations and sources but continues to reflect the idea of being adventurous or unique in selecting food options.
Resources: Find Your Tribe and Foraging Family
Locate some experts:
A Personal Note: Since serious outdoor foraging was new to us, we decided to locate some professionals, which encouraged me to research the Internet. While on this quest, I noticed that a Wild Foraging Weekend was being held in North Carolina. It had a long history, having been a yearly spring event since the late 1960’s.
North Carolina Wild Foods Weekend
April 21 – April 23, 2017
Rivercane Earth Skills Rendezvous
Neighborhood Foraging of Spring Greens and Vegetables
Reidsville, North Carolina.
This is the second longest running annual wild food event in North America and is held every spring since 1968. This event provided education and experience finding, processing, and feasting on edible wild plants and other foragables in the hills of North Carolina. This event, inspired by followers of Euell Gibbon, was open to anyone from beginning to advanced foragers. This year’s theme was “Survival in the Wild.”
North Carolina Wild Foods Weekend
On this spring weekend, about 140 people from all over Eastern North America hiked into the woods and fields of North Carolina learned about edible wild plants, met other foragers, and celebrated spring. After an introduction to some of the plants to be collected, participants joined small groups led by experienced foragers and collected wild foods.
Leda Meredith, the author of “The Forager’s Feast” offered ideas on how to identify, gather, and prepare wild edibles. The climax of the weekend was a Wild Feast composed of collected foods prepared by all participants with experienced chefs attached to each subgroup during the afternoon preparation period.
Caution: Only Forage in the Wild with an expert forager and where it is legal to do so. There is danger out there!!! What may look like an edible plant may be a look alike and poisonous. One mistake could be fatal, especially with mushrooms. And even the experts sometimes do not know for sure if its edible. So use plenty of caution in this endeavor and read a foraging bible or attend a foraging event like above to gain basic knowledge.
Bill Faust and Deonna Crowe Interviews
about North Carolina Wild Food Weekend
Link to Bill Faust Interview
Link to Deonna Crowe Interview
Foraging Inspired Recipes
( 2 minute stir method
Recipe modified by Mike Krebill, April 15, 2017
Served at: North Carolina Wild Food Weekend as a Punch
What are sumac drupes? This recipe uses sumac drupes, which are fleshy fruits with thin skins and central stones containing the seed, e.g., a plum, cherry, almond, or olive.
Red Beet Pastry Sticks with Creamy Cucumber Dip
About the Recipe: Can you just imagine how surprised your guests will be to find out that beet stems can become a delicious appetizer? They taste like a crunchy parmesan pastry straw. The red stem doesn’t taste like a beet but does have that dark red color. They pair well with the cool onion flavored cucumber dip. Have fun with this recipe!
Rosemary Roasted Mixed Nuts
About the Recipe: The wonderful fragrance of rosemary mixed nuts seems almost magical. These nuts are the perfect go-along to serve with your favorite cocktail or beverage. They are also delicious served with the vegetable stew or dandelion salad.
Root Veggie Tomato Ragu
About the Recipe: Vegetable Ragout is a healthy, gluten-free dinner or main dish stew. It can be served over your favorite grain if desired.
Wilted Dandelion Greens Salad with Wild Honey Dressing
About the Recipe: This salad deliciously coats young dandelion leaves with light bacon flavor. Juicy chunks of red apples and dried cranberries add a delightful sweet touch while lightly salted nuts provide a yummy crunch. This is one you need to try this spring.
Grilled Salmon Cabbage Wrap Canoes with Juniper Mustard
About the Recipe: This cabbage is mild flavored which complements the citrus dressing and other greens. Pieces of grilled salmon top the salad and are drizzled with light juniper flavored mustard. It’s a light supper dish to serve with some crunchy multi-grain chips.
Grilled Elk Steak Open Faced Sandwich
About the Recipe: Elk is tender, sweet, and a lean protein-high meat. Marinade the elk and grill it in a pan or on an outdoor grill. Save the marinade to make a tasty drizzle for the thin sliced meat. Spoon it over freshly made flatbreads spread with parsnip hummus and topped with a dollop of cranberry apple salsa.
Country Cranberry Apple Salsa
About the Recipe: This bright, fresh-flavored salsa adds a sparkle to any sandwich, main dish, or salad. The crimson color and crunchy texture of the fruits and nuts add a delightful forest flavor.
Foraging at a Local Farmers Market
Local Farmer’s Markets or Cooperative Farm Programs: As you walk up and down the aisles, stop and talk to the people selling the products. Some of them might have a few new interesting produce products or herbs for you to try too. Just remember, Ask Lots of Questions.….
You also might be able to find some very unusual ingredients. I remember discovering radish buds after a farmer offered me some radish buds at our local farmer’s market. I was really surprised when I learned that I could add them to a simple salad. It sure added a “pop” to our dinner salad that night.
Local Supermarkets: You might want to call this Step One in Foraging. All the food and producers have been selected by the company, experts, or owners of the store. This is the perfect place to start your own adventure and ask the produce specialist or vegetable butcher about vegetables and fruits that are new to you. Introduce the kids a foraging adventure, where there are new-for-them fruits and vegetables along with favorite ones. Tell them about eating fresh carrot and beet leaves. Some kids don’t even realize they have leaves. .
Foraging at a Super Market or Health Food Store
Whole Foods – Specialty Health Food Store
A Special Service: Bet You Didn’t Know that Whole Foods Market helps you more than you know. Before you ever forage in their store, each region has its own food forager, whose job it is to go out to Farmer’s Markets, farms, small local businesses, and craft fairs to locate exciting new products that are recommended to be sold in their stores. In a sense, they do a pre-foraging, bringing new items for you to find.
Crisp Golden Sunchokes ‘n Peppered Potatoes
About the Recipe: Crispy golden potatoes tossed with sweet peppers and crunchy sunchokes make a perfect side dish for that wild forest supper or company dinner.
Sunchoke Dumplings with Rainbow Swiss Chard
About the Recipe: Rainbow chard is one of the most beautiful greens to use with its vibrant colors twirling amidst those emerald green leaves. You almost forget that this vegetable is a top healthy vegetable choice. Sunchoke dumplings enhance this side dish, adding an earthy umami flavor and interesting texture.
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
About the Recipe: Warm roasted butternut squash, crunchy toasted walnuts, and sweet pomegranate cranberries top a bed of fresh crisp Artisan lettuce, flavored with green onions, a hint of orange and surrounded with crunchy multi-grain pita chips. It’s perfect to serve with smoked turkey.
Fresh Garden Beet Salad with Pink Eggs and Sunshine Vinaigrette
About the Recipe: Just 6 beets can create this beautiful beet salad. The beet leaves are used for the greens and quartered beets are arranged over the salad. A simple soak in beet juice creates pink circled eggs. Toss and drizzle the sunshine orange vinaigrette over the greens and add a crunch of sweet pecans. This simple salad is a real show stopper!
Crispy Roasted Potato Go-Arounds
About the Recipe: This is a warning. These potatoes are so delicious that they might become the most popular dish on the table. Crispy potatoes are lightly flavored with garlic, fennel, salt, and pepper. Roasting them with some duck fat will give them a deep browning and delicate savory flavor. Have some fun and garnish with a few fresh edible flowers.
Spring Inspired Duck Breasts with Fresh Green Veggies
About the Recipe: Cooking the duck breasts using this method eliminates up to 70% of the fat and produces crisp delicious skin. This recipe adds fresh spring ramps, fiddleheads, and tiny baby green cauliflowers. Use some fresh fennel to add for a wispy light herb flavor. It’s like spring on a plate!
Anasazi Beans ‘n Greens
About the Recipe: These beans turn a pale pink when cooked and are slightly sweet with a meaty texture. They combine deliciously with the combination power greens and a light vinegar and oil dressing. Cooked bacon bits can be added if desired.
Wild Flavor Juniper Berry Spice Cookies
About the Recipe: These are cookies that you can take along on those adventurous walks in the forest. They have a light spicy taste blend that leaves you wondering what makes them taste so good. Tiny currants and chopped nuts add that soft yet crunchy texture. It’s a wonderful wild flavored cookie.
Sage Apricot Cornmeal Cookies
About the Recipe: This flavor combination is so unique. Brown butter turns the fresh sage leaves into bits of goodness. They combine with tiny sweet apricot pieces in a cornmeal cookie that will remind you of an old fashioned sugar cookie.
Caramel Nut Acorns
About the Recipe: These creative cookies are full of brown sugar flavor and combine a delicious caramel layer with chopped pecans. They take some extra time since you need to form them and then add a caramel layer with nuts. We just loved the cute little acorn shape.
Rose Raspberry Swirled Mint Ice Cream
About the Recipe: Fresh lightly scented rose raspberry sauce twirls through mild mint almond ice cream. Generously add juicy red raspberries, drizzle with refreshing mint syrup, and top with crunchy sliced almonds.
Beautiful and delicious!
Places to Forage Safely
(i.e. Wegmans, Eataly, Marianos, Costco, Sam’s Club, Trader Joe’s, Jungle Jim’s etc)
(i.e Albertsons, Publix, Kroger, Safeway, Meijers, Treasure Island, etc.)
Specialty Health Food Store
(i.e. Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, Fresh Market, Sunspot etc.)
(i.e. Asian, European, Indian, Pakistani, Mexican, So. American, Saraga Foods,)
Local or City Farmers Markets
Look Around, Be Brave, and Adventurous,
Taste, Ask Questions, and Give New Things a Try
Take Something New Home, Try a New Recipe, and Suspend Your Biases
You may be Surprised !!!!!
Specialty Forage Centric Restaurants
Restaurants Are Foraging Opportunities
One of the latest culinary trends is for a restaurant to serve local foods, farm to table, or foraged food. It is the height of “culinary cool” to even grow your very own ingredients. How fresh is that! If you want to experience the ultimate restaurant foraging experience, make a reservation at Elizabeth’s in Chicago, Illinois. You will not believe the unique food they serve. Another favorite place that serves farm to table type of food is Second Empire Restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Elizabeth’s Restaurant – Chicago, Illinois
About the Restaurant: Iliana Regan’s cuisine highlights her Midwestern roots and emphasizes the pure flavor of the ingredients from her family, forage, and homestead. Her tasting menus are meant to please the senses and are inspired by the natural world. They invite you to join them on a food foraging adventure. Seasonal menus highlight forest fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Their mission is to take lost or forgotten foods and methods of preservation and apply them to our season’s bounty-extracting new flavors, ideas, and presentations.
Some of the Awards and Recognition Include:
- Michelin Guide -1 Star
- James Beard Award
- Food and Wine New Best Chefs – 2016
Second Empire Restaurant – Raleigh, NC
Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern – Raleigh, NC
Can you just imagine stopping at a restaurant and discovering classical history, elegant cuisine, world-class wines, and foraged ingredients? We were delighted with the farm-to-table menu and fresh ingredients. Our favorite was a Crispy Phyllo & Slow Roasted Pennsylvania Duck Leg Salad. The food was delicious and so beautiful
This delightful restaurant in located in downtown Raleigh’s historic Victorian Dodd-Hinsdale House (circa 1879). Upstairs enjoy the ultimate dining experience in an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere of charm and grace. Downstairs in the Tavern and beautiful Atrium room enjoy a lighter fare menu and more casual environment.
Second Empire is very proud to be the recipient of the DiRoNA Award (Distinguished Restaurants of North America), the AAA Four Diamond Award (Raleigh’s only restaurant with this award) and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 1998.