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. no.1. wildcrafting and wild edibles.

This post marks the start of an ongoing series relating to foraging, wildcrafting and wild edibles.  Gathering wild edibles has been something I have always done without really thinking about it. It was a way of life growing up on a small New England farm in a very rural area. There wasn't a season that we didn't gather some kind of wild edible. It helped that my stepmother was an amazing gardener/botanist and a Vermont farmer’s granddaughter. We spent countless hours in the woods and the fields on our small farm where she would point out edible plants to us. In part it was an economic choice to gather these treasures as it has historically been for many New Englanders. In the early days of may she sent us out to gather the tiny wild strawberries that grew in the cow pasture. With them she made her coveted wild strawberry jam. When we drove her crazy she shooed us outdoors to find "sour grass" or sheep sorrel and other wild greens for the salads. At summers end we gathered blackberries and elderberries, and with the colder days of fall we were sent in search of wild grapes and cranberries. I can still find the exact spot on my dad's property where wild cranberries grow and the one juniper bush lives at the wood's edge in that far corner of the large field. At the time I was not so crazy about growing up on a small family farm, but now I think it was the perfect place to be. We were given an absolute freedom of the woods that I am not sure kids have today. When I moved to New York for school some twenty odd years ago I never thought I would stay, but here I am, a complete city dweller.  So I have decided to bring a little of the woods and the country into my city life by using more wild edibles on a regular basis. Some of these I will gather myself when I can and others I will get from professional wildcrafters and gatherers at the many local markets here in New York City.

I was inspired by a recent trip to Faviken in Northern Sweden where I had the most unusual and spectacular meal of my life. I ate mushrooms and moss and lichens and a seven year old dairy cow, but it was the philosophy behind it that mostly had me hooked. The Sweden trip renewed my interest in gathering.  As I mentioned earlier, I am not a stranger to gathering by any means, I gather ramp and wild onions, dandelion greens and teaberry and of course all kinds of wild berries in Upstate New York where I go to get out of the city. The Sweden trip made me realize it can be part of my every day life even if I am not constantly living in the country. At Faviken, they take great care with what they pick. They gather ethically, only harvesting small amounts of wild edibles. They realize they have a relationship with the forests and the fields and they must at all costs protect that delicate balance. The dishes they serve are very minimal. I was suddenly seeing the beauty and the flavor in a single pea flower as opposed to a whole pile of them. I fell in love with the long forgotten lovage plant. I had wild herb infusions every morning and a cold juniper infusion with dinner. Walking the woods with Magnus, the chef at Faviken, suddenly everything seemed very alive. We talked about reindeer lichen and old man's beard, mushrooms and berries.

As far as mushrooms go I have never really spent much time picking them. I went with my grandparents and their Italian friends a couple of times in Northern Vermont, where they lived for many years, to pick chanterelle's and morels. I don't feel particularly confident picking mushrooms myself.  Since there are so many poisonous similes I tend to leave the mushrooms to the experts. There is a definite science to mushroom picking, spore prints must be done and guides should be consulted. I would never pick mushrooms without checking a guide and doing a spore print.

That is a whole other post for another time! 

 wild strawberry