Beaver dam side view 790 xxx
photos by george billard

9.26.11 Impromptu Potluck

Imagine traipsing through the woods early of an autumnal eve and coming upon this sight. Can you imagine anything more inviting? I feel so lucky to spend time at Beaver Dam. (Especially when I'm not going out of my mind waiting for my bathroom to be repaired!) And to come together there with a circle of new friends I have been collecting upstate—people who love eating well, being in nature, just chilling—is such fun. A recent invitation for cocktails turned into a few hours of cooking, foraging and eating, with everyone contributing in a very serendipitous way. We brought squash blossoms and fresh Concord grape juice, and happened to stumble upon some more black trumpet mushrooms en route (!), and there were many more delicacies waiting for us when we arrived. "Peace" vodka from a nearby distillery to mix with the grape juice, a couple of flawlessly executed dishes made with locally foraged mushrooms and a gorgeous peach galette worthy of Alice Waters herself. The best part, though, were the enormous glass doors of Beaver Dam thrown open to the glorious view: the ferns bleaching to a golden crisp, the wheat-colored marsh grasses blushing from the glow of the setting sun, the dank woods smelling of mushrooms and wet leaves. Though it was not cold, we lit a fire as a tribute to the approaching fall.
Beaver dam chimney 790 xxx
the rooofline at beaver dam creates an imposing silhouette against the sky

Chanterelles1 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

9.19.11 Mycology Today

Enough with the mushrooms! Or is it? I have felt myself becoming obsessed this past week. Any free moment I have, I'm stealing into the woods to search for black trumpets, chanterelles, hen-of-the-woods and chicken mushrooms. And I've been richly rewarded! We're supposed to get more rain this week, and I think by Friday a new crop may be sending out its siren song. I found so many maitakes that I gave half of them to my friend Tomo, who is connected to many of NYC's best Japanese chefs. Apparently they're all excited to cook with them! (I'll try to parlay this into an interview, or at least an interesting new mushroom recipe.) By now we've eaten mushrooms on toast, mushroom risotto, mushroom tempura and mushroom soup. I've frozen and dried enough to see me through the winter, but I still fantasize about what might be around the next tree! What's wrong with me??
False chanterelle 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

9.7.11 Fungal Infection

I've caught the bug. My latest obsession is foraging for wild mushrooms. At this point, it's really not about eating them. I need to know much more about these fascinating fungi before I bring them to the dinner table. For starters, there are thousands upon thousands of different varieties! And you have to learn all the finer points of identification to be truly certain before popping one in your mouth. As the saying goes, "When in doubt, throw it out!" But with all the rain we've been having, the woods are fairly teeming with shrooms of all shapes and sizes and, after a recent gift of wild black trumpet mushrooms foraged by my friend Tomo in the woods near her house, I am hell-bent on finding my own mother lode of something, somewhere, sometime. In the meantime, let me just share with you a few of the gorgeous specimens I collected after (and during) the recent downpours.