Monday, May 28, 2012

'shroom! 'shroom!

It's 6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and my alarm just went off. I'm up and at it for my first Mushroom Foraging experience hosted by the Culinary Adventure Company and I keep reminding myself that once I get my eyelids pried open this is going to be fun. I'm instructed by Chef Scott Savoie to meet up with the group at a little nest of a park quietly tucked away on a cul de sac on the southside of Lawrence, just west of the Don Valley Parkway.

 I was pleasantly surprised to show up and find an eager group of 25 people, ready and waiting to hit the trail.
We are guided on this tour by Grant Bouchard who was brought in by Chef Savoie to teach us on the fine art of foraging. Of course we are hopeful that we'll find the buried treasure patches of those nuggets of natures goodness that we can spirit away home to our kitchens, our frying pans and eventually our tummies.  Alas, Grant reminds us with the lack of rain and the unseasonal early warmth that there is a good chance that mushrooms will perhaps be more scarce than we had hoped for. 
Regardless of what the outcome was that day I have to say that this was just a fun morning and a great way to be reminded that there are natural buried treasures in and about the city and it isn't all about the concrete.  Everyone once in a while you'd look up and notice the highrises along the skyline and be reminded that you were actually scavenging for wild foods along the crests and the cliffs of the Don River.  What a great experience!  The group that had gathered was just so much fun to be with.  We helped each other through the more challenging climbing areas.  There were seniors, couples, a Father/Daughter team, and a couple of gal pals 
who brought their dogs long for the adventure!

Meet Ben & Domino! They were more eager to swim in the river than to sniff out the Morels!

The foraging begins with big hopes that we can luck out and find some mushroom deliciousness.

The reminders of the spots were the Fiddleheads were growing just a few weeks earlier.

We come across some Saddleback mushrooms.  We are also reminded about how we must be respectful in how we pick mushrooms, limiting the numbers, so that we don't strip Mother Nature of her natural capabilities to be replace what we take.  As we suspected the lack of rain has made for very dry, hard ground and while the Saddleback mushrooms are fairly plentiful the precious and most sought for Morels are in very short supply.  Of course all I'm thinking about is how when you go out on a fishing tour the guide usually does the perfunctory fish fry along the shore at the end of your outing. Alas, there would be no mushrooms being fried for us back at Base Camp.  
 Then again I should have realized that I was foraging with the Culinary Adventure Company and first and foremost food will always been in abundance!  Oh silly me.  So after climbing about the trails we head back to Base Camp to be greeted by the smiling face of Chef Shahir Massoud who has been busily preparing our lunch.  What a perfect way to end the mushroom trek....with a bbq!  Chef Sharir has started by preparing us some pan fried Morel mushrooms just to ease the blow of coming back empty handed.  He was just getting warmed up.  What a fantastic lunch!
We were treated to fresh bbq'd burgers that had shaved truffles in them. The burgers were perfectly carmelized on the outside and juicy on the inside.  They were served with double smoked cheddar and creamy infused onions, all on a fresh egg bun.  We sided our burgers with a Red Beet Salad that was topped with Goat Cheese Mousse &Pistachios; a Red Cabbage Summer Slaw with a red wine afro dolce; and a wedged potato salad with a Chipotle dressing.  I just love spud salad with an attitude.  Servings were heaping and no one went hungry!  

If you are looking for a city adventure around food, or a date with your favorite hunny, then I would encourage you to take a look at the different packages and tours that the Culinary Adventure Company offer up.  They are a great value for the price tag.  Once you buy your ticket everything is provided, all food & drink, along with a handout are included in the price.  Chef Scott Savoie is a charming, funny and as he puts it "a fat little Chef" who knows how to show his guests a really great time.  I guess this would explain why the Culinary Adventure Company has been listed in Trip Advisor as the number one food tour group in the city of Toronto.  

I've checked out the Riverside/Leslieville Day Walking Tour as well as the Little Italy Tour held in the evening.  Next up hopefully will be the Paddling Adventure.  To check out all the tours, including Little India and Greektown have a look at the Culinary Adventure Company by just clicking on the link on their name. 
Just tell the fat little chef that MamaCoop sent you! 

1 comment:

  1. Not big on onions, but man does that look good! Good enough for me to even forget I don't like onions! *laughs* Inspiring, on a different way that usual. *winks*