taste of chicago


Out of Chicago and into hell

Hello. Chicago was good. Mainly because I had never really been there before. That sounds negative but isn't. I would have liked more time in Chicago, to really check it out. I spent most of my time foraging (more on that later) and at the taste of Chicago. The Taste is a festival put on for the last 30 years in Chicago that means to....Im not honestly sure what it means to do. It certainly doesn't mean to show the people of Chicago anything interesting about food. Think 40 vendors all selling the leftovers from the Des Moines county fair, and you get an idea of the culinary virtue that is The Taste.  Perhaps unfair ( I did have grilled turkey ribs that weren't too bad), but pretty apt. Its interesting to me that you would put on an event focused on food, and have so little diversity. Or maybe I've just become a food snob in these past years. Ok, onto the interesting stuff.... There were an amazing amount of new (to me) plants in Chicago's parks.  I grew up in VT, so many of the plants ( like milkweed, pictured here)

It was great to walk around with Sunny, that I saw in Chicago we had back home, but this time I saw them with new eyes.  I really only started foraging when I got to SF, so it was really enlightening to learn from Sunny who's knowledge of wild foods definitely surpasses my own (Sunny Savage has a TV show on the Veria network about wild food. She's the reason I was in Chicago, to help her forage and cook). Mine is very SF specific, so I was lost in this new environment.

Overall a good trip, Im in NYC now (where it is 96 degrees,hence the "hell" in the title), but will be back in SF on the 7th. We just posted some new wild food walks on foragesf.com, and look out for an email about some upcoming dinners we're doing mid July.

Also....we're starting the CSF back up! A friend of mine, Kevin Feinstein, who is going to be managing the workings of it in the months to come, so look out for an email about that too.

Well I'm off to meet Ava Chin, a NYC based forager, who writes a column for the NY times.

Also....Just got interviewed for a Times magazine article, so look out for that! Very Exciting. Ok, enough talk.


Taste of chicago day 1

Today was my first day in Chicago. Didn't sleep last night in the hopes of actually making it onto a 6am flight out of SFO, so it was a bit of a long day. Im here for 4 days to help out Sunny Savage, a forager who has a TV show that is in post production. Shes on a publicity tour at the moment, and asked me to come along to help her cook/forage.  We'd actually never met before I got into today at noon, which was a bit random I suppose, but everything seems to be working out so far.

We spent most of the day today foraging for ingredients for Sunnys presentation tomorrow and Saturday at the taste of chicago. It was a lot of fun seeing the diversity of plants out here, and I am amazed at how few I recognized.  The change in climate changes things in really big ways, and all the standbys, wild radish, nettle, etc...were no where to be seen. We did find some good stuff though. The one I was most excited about was wild ginger. (which we actually have in SF, but I had never foraged it myself before):[gallery]

Another plant that we have around SF, but I've never been sure of the identification is Lambs Quarters. You see plants that are very similar everywhere in the Bay Area, but many of them are poisonous, so its very important to have a proper ID on this plant. I'm told that it tastes like spinach (full disclosure, my pics weren't very good for this plant, so I lifted this online:

Notice the shallow viens and silver/white sheen, those are both defining characteristics of lambs quarters. Be careful though, because it looks very close to some very poisonous look alikes. Another really cool plant we found today that I have definitely never seen in SF is nodding onion (below).  I imagine the name derives from the "nod" of the top, for some reason it reminds me of swans. The bulb is really a lot closer to green garlic than onion, really great plant. Well....thats it for today. Ill be here for the next couple days, hopefully finding some new plants. Tomorrow Sunny is giving a presentation at the taste of chicago main stage, should be fun, cooking and what have you.