Archive for July, 2010

Wild berries

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

A month ago I was feeling a bit low. This season would likely bring few if any apples, pears, plums, cherries and other tree fruits to our table. The two hard frosts in late May took care of that, and this summer our little orchard seems intent on producing nothing but a bumper crop of young branches for me to prune next year.

But I’ve put all that behind me. We’re smack in the middle of berry season and so far it’s been great. The warm weather this spring seemed to make the strawberries particularly big and tasty, and last week I  picked the last of the wild black raspberries (pictured) from the few bushes in the corner of our hay field. Black raspberries are so satisfying. They grow up off the main plant in little floricanes with fruit clusters at the end. When ripe they fall right off, leaving the little hollow space behind, which is one way to distinguish between black raspberries and blackberries which are not hollow, and pull off the little base along with the fruit.

The blackberries are not quite ripe yet, but until they are, we can forage in a nearby marsh for high bush blueberries. The wet ground makes boots necessary, and depending on the time of day, bugs can be a nuisance, but the high bushes make bending down unnecessary, which is a relief. To find the marsh, we leave a trail that leads off our woods into some dense pines. A few yards of the pines and we reach the edge of the marsh. It’s still shady here, but there are plenty of bushes with good-sized berries, and firm ground to stand in. Venture a bit further, and we emerge into the hot sun and feel our boots squishing down into the mud. This morning, an hour or so yielded about 3 quarts of the little blue wonders.

There are many more berries to come this year, and we’ll be there to pick them when we can. And what we don’t pick, the birds will feast on.

More from the Wild Maine Dinner

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

So here’re a few photos from the wild Maine dinner. We didn’t shoot everything, but this’ll give you an idea. I know Johnny D has collected some audio and perhaps more photos. We’ll let you know when those are available.

“Herring and Mackerel. Herring Tataki with pickled Wild Ginger and Goosetongue, Smoked Mackerel with Fox Grape Leaf salad. Cured Mackerel with Crisp Root and Sea Mustard flowers.”

“25 wild plants, vegetables, and flowers. Queen Anne’s Lace root vinaigrette”.  Someone’s a fan of Michel Bras.

“Milkweed Pods, Ricotta, Lemon.”

“Tomato Water, Chanterelle Vodka”

Much fun being had.

The last of three dessert courses, “Tempura Milkweed Flowers. Creme Fraiche sauce, Wild Berries”

A Wild Maine Dinner

Monday, July 19th, 2010

I have to post this menu from a delicious and varied dinner of wild Maine foods, given by friends last night. They’re foragers, and by nature a bit secretive, so I’ll leave them anonymous until they tell me they wish to emerge from the shadows.   Hopefully some pictures to follow.

before dinner

Pickled Mushrooms in oil

Ramp pickles

Day Lily pickles

Seaweed Stem pickles

Smoked Wild Turkey sausage

Bread and Morel butter

dinner

Venison Carpaccio.  Juniper crust, Cattail, Ramp Flower capers

Herring and Mackerel. Herring Tataki with pickled Wild Ginger and Goosetongue, Smoked Mackerel with Fox Grape Leaf salad. Cured Mackerel with Crisp Root and Sea Mustard flowers

25 wild plants, vegetables, and flowers. Queen Anne’s Lace root vinaigrette

Milkweed Pods. Ricotta, Lemon

Tomato water, Chanterelle Vodka

Tide Pool.  Sea Veg, Crab, Razor Clam, Uni, Fumet

dessert

Rosa Rugosa Sorbet

Black Trumpet Pasta. Ragu of Lobster, Razor Clam, Chanterelle and Black Trumpets. Wood Sorrel.

Pineapple Weed Upside Down Cake.  Sweet Fern Honey, Juniper Ice Cream

Tempura Milkweed Flowers. Creme Fraiche sauce, Wild Berries

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

“Pliny and Isadore write there are not above 144 Kinds of Fishes, but to my knowledge there are nearer 300. I suppose America was not known to Pliny and Isadore.”

John Josselyn, New England Rarities (London, 1672)