To brace myself for a productive and fruitful spring season of foraging for the elusive morel mushroom I decided to attend the Open Kitchen-Springwater Farms Forager’s feast this last Sunday night. Chef Kathryn Yeomans (Sage Culinary Advice) kicked off the evening with a nettle flan which was creamy to the palate, yet evocative of the deep forest at the same time. The main course of pork belly, pork and mushroom sausage and braised pigs foot demanded that I order an entire bottle of the Twist Reversal Syrah rather than force myself to be frugal with the meager few ounces that accompanied the plate. I was pouring for the table after all.
I was fortunate enough to have been placed next to Roger and Norma, the farmers who brought the produce to the dinner, and was able to coax descriptions of the diet they fed the Tamworth hogs as well as farm stories ranging from the chickens roosting in the trees to suitability of llamas as a defense against coyotes. Chef Kathryn created the sauce by first braising the pigs head with mirepoix for hours, removing the head (to be used for carnitas by the family) and straining and reducing the resultant liquid.
The next course was a refreshing blend of miner’s lettuce and Siberian miner’s lettuce dappled with goat feta, which was creamier and less salty than the the sheep feta that I was accustomed to.
The dessert course was an amazing blend of tart and cream: the candied violets so beautiful it was heart wrenching to eat them (I managed to get through that dilemma…). I overheard Roger telling Norma that, even though the hogs were from their farm, the greens he had foraged personally, the dessert was perhaps the best course of the evening. The overriding high point for me was hearing that Roger had developed a morel mushroom growing kit that will very soon be available on the market. Perhaps with this ground breaking technology I can elude that empty feeling of returning from a day’s hunt with nothing but a pitiful handful of these prized mushrooms.