Trendspotting: Wild Food
Wild flavors—in foraged herbs, say, or sauvage Chardonnays fermented with airborne yeasts—are complex, powerful and thrillingly unpredictable. Here's a look at all the wild new food possibilities: in the kitchen, in vineyards and even in tree-house hotels.
Wild Food: Travel
Courtesy of Inkaterra
Treetop Penthouse Inkaterra's new Canopy Tree House sits 90 feet above the Amazon jungle floor in southeastern Peru, providing a perfect perch for observing the wildlife. Doubles from $600; inkaterra.com.
Courtesy of Cherry Wood Bed, Breakfast & Barn
Wild in Wine Country
Is a tasting-room tour much too tame? Try some of these new ways to get in touch with wine country's wild side.
Willamette Valley, OR Take a horseback ride through vineyards, stopping at top Pinot Noir producers. equestrianwinetours.com.
Sonoma County, CA See Bella Vineyards' mountainside vineyard and wine caveswhile riding in a Pinzgauer, a six-wheeled Swiss ATV. bellawinery.com.
Yakima Valley, WA At the Cherry Wood B&B, sleep in a tepee and check out wineries on horseback. cherrywoodbbandb.com.
Champagne, France Have a drink at the Perching Bar, a tree-house lounge 18 feet above the ground in the middle of a forest. perchingbar.eu.
Camping: Mild to Wild
© Eric Ryan Anderson
Mild El Cosmico; Marfa, TX Campers stay in 1950s trailers at this desert campground run by the folks behind Austin's hip Hotel San Jose. Communal areas have outdoor kitchens and wood-fired hot tubs. Vintage trailers offer the comfort of full kitchens and bathrooms. From $110 per night; elcosmico.com.
Mildly Wild Mt. Madonna; Gilroy, CA Campers in this county park can stay in Central Asian–style yurts outfitted with locking doors. Inside, the yurts have futons, bunk beds and wraparound decks. Outside each yurt is a fire pit for cooking dinner under the redwoods. From $35 per night; gooutsideandplay.org.
Courtesy of Kelty
Wildest Monadnock State Park; Jaffrey, NH Visitors to Ralph Waldo Emerson's favorite peak have a new place to stay: Gilson Pond, the park system's first new campground in 40 years. Kelty's lightweight palisade tents, left, are great for hike-to sites. From $18 per night; reserveamerica.com.
Provides state-by-state maps and local sources for wild foods—pastured meat, seafood and more.
Courtesy of the Travel Channel
Wild Food: Bread, Mushrooms, & More
© Kate Mathis
Chef Joshua Skenes uses rosemary two ways: boiled (to flavor a brine for onions) and fried (as a crunchy garnish).
Up in the Air
Bakers, brewers and winemakers are making use of spontaneous fermentation driven by wild, airborne yeasts.
Wild Bread: Sourdough
Mark Stambler captures the wild yeasts of Los Angeles to make rustic, chewy loaves in his backyard oven. He sells his bread at the Cheese Store of Silver Lake.
Wild Beer: Lambic
Sixpoint Craft Ales' "Mad Scientists" line will feature a lambic-like beer made with wild yeast from the brewery's Brooklyn rooftop.
Wild Wine: Natural Bottles
Relying on wild yeasts to ferment wine is slow and unpredictable, but Napa producer Franciscan credits the process for the complex flavors of its Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay.
© Kate Mathis
Wild fennel grows like a weed in much of California. Pastry chef Bill Corbett uses it in a strawberry compote he spoons onto orange-scented pound cake.
© Alex Nabaum
Mushroom Mind Games
Eating wild mushrooms can make you sick, but so can fungus phobia, says Eugenia Bone.
Even though more and more people are foraging for wild mushrooms, I constantly meet people who are afraid to. It's ironic, because in my experience, mycophobia—fear of mushrooms— has its own potential side effects.
To wit: One summer in southwest Colorado, my friend Yvon and I found a beautiful cluster of fresh, white, vase-shaped mushrooms. I didn't recognize them but Yvon was ecstatic. "Oooh," he said in his French accent. "These are wonderful in the ohm-let!" What are they called? "Spa… Spo… Ah! What does it matter? They are delicious when young." We each collected about five pounds.
The next morning, I decided a positive identification was in order. I got out the books and found our mushrooms right away. Clitocybe dilatata: poisonous. I called Yvon. "But I ate a pound of them last night, and I feel excellent!" he replied. I told him to go to page 746 of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms. There was a long pause. "I'll have to get back to you," he said.
Yvon called poison control, and was put on hold, during which time he started to sweat profusely and freak out over every stomach rumble. He finally talked to a mycologist, who explained that if he'd been poisoned, he'd have known it right away. It seemed that the young mushrooms hadn't fully developed their potential toxicity.
Getting poisoned by a wild mushroom is a wretched experience, but so is thinking that you've been poisoned by one. Any mycophiliac will tell you: Mushroom poisoning can be a problem of the mind as much as the belly.
Eugenia Bone's Mycophilia: New Revelations From the Weird World of Mushrooms is due out in October.
Courtesy of Juniper Ridge Tea
Wild mint from California's coastal mountains and white sage from the Arizona desert are combined in this aromatic, earthy tea. $10 for 20 tea bags; juniperridge.com.
Courtesy of theseaweedman.com
Kacie Loparto harvests seaweed along Maine's coast and sells five types at farmers' markets and on her website, shesellsseaweed.com. She especially loves wakame mixed with miso, ginger and cucumber, below.
© Kate Mathis
From the Seaweed Kitchen
Kombu with Beans: Loparto cooks kombu with heirloom black beans for a subtly sweet, smoky flavor.
Vegetable Sushi: "Unprocessed, toasted nori is great with some brown or wild rice," Loparto says.
Wild Food: Style
Courtesy of vivre.com
With sculpted brass and a 94-carat citrine, designer Wynn Wynn Ong re-creates an arachnophobe's nightmare. $1,600; vivre.com.
Courtesy of Ralph Lauren Home
Ralph Lauren Home's leopard-spotted Hutchinson plate brings safari style to the dinner table. $50; ralph laurenhome.com.
© Kate Mathis
Nettleton Hollow's oat grass, Manzanita branches and coco lashing become earthy centerpieces. nettletonhollow.com.
Courtesy of Louis Vuitton
The spring runways were filled with elephants, monkeys and birds. For his Louis Vuitton collection, Marc Jacobs used a pink zebra print. louisvuitton.com.