Pin It
Favorite

On Finding Gold in the Woods 

click to enlarge 6a00d83451b91969e201538eca78c3970b-pi.jpg

Editor's note: Frances Cannon is passionate about the contents of her plate and adventures in the kitchen. As the summer food writing intern for Seven Days, she'll be contributing her thoughts on pastry, espresso and the wild forkfuls of the season

Before the weather warmed, I made it my goal to find the heavenly trio of the season: fiddle-heads, ramps, and morels. After all, finding wild edibles is certainly more exciting than a trip to the grocery store, or maybe even (dare I say) the farmers market.

My sister and I easily found fields of fiddle-heads in the flooded marshes near the Intervale in early May. A few days later, we took a trip to Milton to gather baskets of wild leeks, otherwise known as ramps. We collected enough to make eight jars of ramp pesto.

Although morels are prevalent in Vermont around this time of year, they are also very elusive, and so I had little hope of finding them. I did not give up my quest, however, for unlike us, the treasured mushrooms love heavy rains. They grow most commonly under ash trees, but you can also search under aging elms, cottonwoods and sycamores, or in abandoned apple orchards and in regions recovering from fires. Look for black, yellow or large brown morels, but be wary of their deadly doppelgangers. Clue: the edible morel is hollow through and through.

 

Last week, to my delight, we stumbled on a miniature village of morels while hiking in the Northeast Kingdom. After we found the first few, about a hundred others suddenly appeared in our field of vision -- brain-like golden ovals that stood tall above the leaves, scattered along the edge of the grassy field and airy woods. We were standing in a minefield of my favorite fungus, and we couldn't control our fingers. Soon we couldn't even contain them in our arms, so we had to turn our shirts into makeshift bowls and waddle home like old women cradling tiny grandchildren.

With a basket full of fungus gold, we could have sold the nuggets to a nearby restaurant for a pretty penny, but we decided instead to make an enormous batch of creamy pasta and invite as many people as we could fit in our dining room. We rushed to Cheese Traders for Parmesan, fettuccine, and cream. Luckily, we still had a handful of wild leeks and a jar of ramp pesto to add to the sauce.

I made a quick roux with flour and butter, caramelized the roots of the ramps, and added the cleaned and sliced morels, allowing them to wilt and reduce. I also added some pesto, a bit of tarragon mustard and seasonings, as well as cream and a dash of white wine. Poured over pasta and topped with a pile of finely grated Parmesan, this feast was gold fit for a king.

It has certainly been a fortuitous month for gathering! Now I can check fiddle-heads, ramps, and morels off my list and start counting down the days until I can forage for wild berries and Queen Anne’s Lace.
 

 

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Tags: ,

Pin It
Favorite

More by Frances Cannon

About The Author

Frances Cannon

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
e-newsletters:

All content © 2016 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So Champlain St Ste 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation