where the wild things are. wild foods discussion and dinner.

I want to take a second to tell you all about a special event happening this weekend. Les Hook and Nova Kim  of Vermont Wild Foods will be hosting a wild foods discussion and a dinner here in NYC. The wild foods talk is Saturday the 23rd and the dinner is Sunday the 24th  after theNew Amsterdam Market.  I love these guys and they are very dear to me. If you are at all interested in wild foods you will love this discussion. It is a special day when you get to meet Les and Nova.

xx

 A few years ago we had the honor of becoming friends with Nova Kim and Les Hook of Vermont Wild Food Gatherer’s Guild. We spent a few days with them in the woods making a short film, they are both mushroom gatherers and educators hosting a series of lectures, teaching one of the first accredited wild foods courses, and hosting wild walks.  They have traveled to Slow Foods Terra Madre to lecture. They have 70’s years of wild and medicinal food gathering knowledge between the two of them. They are a fascinating duo. You can find them occasionally at The New Amsterdam Market.  They will be there this Sunday pre thanksgiving with wild mushrooms and wild jerusalem artichokes. Les and Nova will be giving a lecture on wild foods at the New Amsterdam Market Offices post market this Saturday(223 Front Street NYC) There will be a  wild foods dinner  at Jimmy’s 43 in the East Village. (43 east 7th Street)  on Sunday following the market. . Tickets for these two events are available through Brown Paper Tickets event # 509353.

From The Brown Paper Tickets site...

Les Hook and Nova Kim - A Wild Food Discussion, Presentation and a Nibble

Join Les Hook and Nova Kim, Wild Gourmet Food and the Wild Food Gatherers Guild, in a Wild Food Discussion covering plants from all around you to plants deep in the woods.  Enjoy and be amazed by the samples of wild plants currently available...including, but not limited to, wild watercress, wild leeks, wild ginger, Jerusalem Artichoke slivers (for taste and crunch).   Also, share our standby "Chicken of the Woods Rice & Quinoa" dish with recipe handout.  This is a treat to eat that just happens to also be Vegetarian and Vegan friendly.Nova and her partner Les bring a wealth of information from their seventy-plus years of  experience in wildcrafting and working with forest resources in the Northeast, South and Rocky Mountains.  As long-time gatherers, original participants at the New Amsterdam Market, and spirited educators, whether at the Smithsonian, Terra Madre, Italy, Field Trip Leaders & Presenters at the IWEMM-7 Gautemala or Vermont's various educational institutions, you are guaranteed an interesting evening. This couple has been featured in numerous books and articles including the NY Times Magazine, NY Times, New York Magazine, Village Voice, The Boston Globe, Green Living Journal and others plus being featured on NPR's Splendid Table and Weekend Edition/Saturday."A Guide to Wild Harvesting & Ethics" and the "Mushroom Identification Aid / Spore Print Card" PDF downloads are included.  There will also be another Wild Food Event featuring this couple on November 24 at Jimmy's No. 43.  For information go to http://m.bpt.me/event/509353

Below a few photos inspired by Les and Nova.

wild mushrooms 

wild mushrooms 

raw milk panna cotta with maple and black walnuts

raw milk panna cotta with maple and black walnuts

wild black walnuts

wild black walnuts

carpaccio of jerusalem artichoke

carpaccio of jerusalem artichoke

where the wild things are. the blue pearl.

One afternoon, a couple years ago, around a tiny fire outside their farmhouse in Southern Vermont, Les Hook and Nova Kim cooked up some wild mushrooms we had gathered that morning nearby. In a  large cast iron pan, they seasoned them with nothing more than a little butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper. It had just begun to snow steadily when we set out to gather. Large fat flakes  floated around us amd landed on our eyelashes.Les pulled over in his red Subaru, flashers glowing in the wild flurry of white. He deftly put up a twenty-foot ladder against a slippery maple tree and quickly climbed up. He pulled of the biggest Blue Pearl Oyster Mushrooms I have ever seen off that tree. We drove back to their place and lit the fire. It was then that Nova told us about her non-turkey, perfect for vegetarians on turkey day or for any feast any time of the year for that matter. You must start with a large fan of a mushroom, as you can see from the photo it kind of sweetly resembles a turkey's tail! Though I have roasted many a mushroom from them, it took me two years to get to this post. I asked Nova to save me a large Blue Pearl that I would pick up from the New Amsterdam Market. Luckily my snail mail reached her in time and I was able to get a beauty from them the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I kept in a paper bag on my fire escape until cooking day. Now I know I have sung their praises before but people, if you have not been to the market on a day when they are there then you are SERIOUSLY missing out. If you are interested in finding out when The Vermont Wild Food Gatherer's Guild will be in town go to The New Amsterdam Market website and check the vendor and calendar listings! They always have something special and if you have never been to the market then what are you waiting for? It is every Sunday from 11-4pm.

Back to the mushrooms...

The mushroom I got from Les and Nova was held together by a stretch of bark. I left the piece of bark on the mushroom while I roasted it.

I brushed the mushroom with a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkled it with French sea salt cracked black pepper and thyme.

I put in my largest Cast iron pan...this was a BIG mushroom 14 inches across at least. I threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for a slow roast and when it started to brown at the edges I put about a 1/4 cup of water in the pan and covered it with tin foil to add a little more moisture. Mushrooms are essentially like sponges so they soak up all that moisture. I may not have needed to do this if I had roasted it right away but since I had waited a few days I thought it might help to add the additional moisture.. I took the tin foil off for the last five minutes or so of cooking. I can't give you a specific cooking time because it depends on how big or small the mushrooms are that you are roasting. So use your intuition. You want it to be moist and almost meaty when you slice it.

We loved this so much that we could almost forego the turkey next year and just eat this!

It was really good with gravy... 

Thank you Nova for this brilliant idea!

Roasted Wild Blue Pearl Mushroom Tail

Set your oven to 350 degrees 

1 large Blue Pearl Mushroom fan approx 12-14 inches in length

1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil brushed and drizzled on the mushroom

Seas salt to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste

Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

Gently brush any dirt or debris off the mushroom with a small mushroom brush or a small pastry brush

Place the mushroom upright in a large roasting pan or cast iron skillet

Brush and drizzle with olive oil. Mushrooms really soak it up so be generous with your application.

Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper

Add some fresh thyme leaves and a sprig or two for looks

Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of our mushroom.

Put about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water in the pan and cover with tin foil

When the water is all evaporated the mushroom will be done. 

Uncover for the last five minutes or so.

The mushroom should be moist and easy to slice along the grain.

Cooking time really depends on the mushroom size so keep and eye on it!@ You don’t want it to be too tough!!!

As always, a word of caution where wild mushrooms are concerned. Leave the gathering to an expert!!