Foraging Tips for the Hopeless

By Ratha Tep Posted May 14, 2007

Unlike my colleague Nick Fauchald, who scoured the forest floors of upstate New York this past weekend in search of ramps, I've never truly foraged for anything. Unless someone put me smack in the middle of an orchard (yes, I've gone apple-picking), I wouldn't know where to begin. Fortunately, a few years ago, California residents David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young created Fallen Fruit, a "mapping and manifesto for all the free fruit we can find." To that end, they posted maps of various neighborhoods in southern California and New Mexico, indicating where specific fruit can be found. Since they haven't spread to the East Coast, I think the closest I'll come to foraging will be to head over to an ice cream shop in Princeton, New Jersey, called Bent Spoon (a favorite of artisanal ice-cream-maker extraordinaire Jeni Britton of Columbus, Ohio-based Jeni's, which has just started selling at Dean & DeLuca). Later this month, Bent Spoon's husband-and-wife co-owners Gab Carbone and Matthew Errico will be debuting homemade root beer, inspired by recipes Carbone found in old cookbooks. While they're currently experimenting with using birch bark from a commercial grower in California, they're also looking into scraping some of it from their friends' trees. They call that "New Jersey terroir."

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