Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rendezvous Recap, Part 2

For Part 1 of the Native Shores Rendezvous Recap, click here.

After collecting goodly amounts of bivalves and seaweeds, it was time to head inland to find plain old weeds (and native greens, too). I'm not sure exactly where we were—somewhere off 101, possibly the Trask River.

We pulled over to the side of the road and stepped into a Japanese knotweed factory. The invasive weed was everywhere. Most of it was too big for our purposes; we wanted the young, leafless shoots to saute and broil like asparagus, although we took a few of the largest stems to scrape for pie filling. I must confess the knotweed was not my favorite edible of the weekend. We found few really short stems, and though I can see how new shoots could be treated like asparagus and grilled or broiled, these were somewhat fibrous.

Nearby was the delicate lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina) and its scrumptious young shoots. These fiddleheads, with their relatively clean scrolls, were a welcome change from the fiddleheads I had been gathering outside Seattle this spring.

When we got all this booty back to the lodge there was still no time to rest. Now we had to process the foraged food and get it ready for cooking. Fortunately the rain let up long enough to do this part outside.

The forager's feast on Saturday night was just that—a meal made purely with foraged foods and nothing else save salt and pepper. We boiled each round of bivalves—cockles, butter clams, gapers, and a few littlenecks—in the same cauldron of water, then used the broth as the base of a delicious soup that included chopped cockles, seaweeds, fiddleheads, and knotweed spears. There were more steamer clams than anyone knew what to do with. A fresh salad included a few leaves of conventional lettuce and a little red bell pepper and carrot for color but otherwise was composed of seaweeds (both cooked and raw), chopped knotweed, and blanched fiddleheads. The knotweed pies would have to wait until the next night.


Mungo said...

That looks like a great feast! Must be fun to harvest the bivalves right from the sea. I live by Lake Ontario in Canada, and we don't have many bivalves available. When I go camping up north I could harvest mussels... I might do that this summer. I really enjoy reading your blog - nice resource links too.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your foraging weekend -- I am really enjoying your multi-part series! I love the thought of cooking what you've gathered from land & sea together.

Langdon Cook said...

Thanks Mungo & Audrey! I hope I've done the weekend justice. I'm so far behind in my postings--I've got to get up something about the mad shrimping we did from a canoe in Hood Canal last week! The season is bountiful...