Category Archives: classes

Spring Foraging Classes

classes6I’ve partnered once again with both Bainbridge Island Parks & Rec and The Field Trip Society in Seattle to offer a variety of spring foraging trips, from short wild edible ID walks in a Seattle park to all-day shellfish extravaganzas.

Below are the classes and dates (plus one special dinner). Check back for additional classes.

Spring Foraged Dinner, March 19, La Medusa, Seattle

Wild Edible Hike, March 24, Issaquah, WA

Shellfish Foraging & Cooking, March 30, Dosewallips State Park, WA

Wild Edible Hike, April 20, Issaquah, WA

Shellfish Foraging & Cooking, April 28, Dosewallips State Park, WA

After-Work Wild Edible Walk, May 2, Seattle, WA

Shellfish Foraging & Cooking, May 13, Dosewallips State Park, WA

The Field Trip Society

fieldtripsocietylogoNew class announced for October 27!

The Field Trip Society is a new Seattle-based business offering a wide range of hands-on experiences for the adventurous learner, from outdoor excursions to cooking classes. I’ve partnered with FTS to teach foraging and wild foods workshops.

Here’s my fall lineup:

October 6: Wild Edibles of the Cascade Foothills. We’ll take a three-mile hike through forest, not far from Seattle, discovering nature’s bounty along the way. We’ll see dozens of plants and fungi, learn about their identification and natural histories, and discuss culinary uses. This in-depth exploration is perfect for the nature lover and adventurous eater.

October 24: Foraged Dinner at La Medusa, Seattle. In this intimate and educational dinner, I’ll discuss autumn’s most prolific Northwest fungi: where they grow, how to handle and care for them, and delicious and simple methods to prepare them for harvest dinners. Guests will have the opportunity to wander into the kitchen to see the chefs at work, as well as dine on a five-course meal complete with wine pairings at one of Columbia City’s most beloved restaurants, La Medusa. Price includes 5-course meal, wine pairings, and gratuity.

New Classes & Lectures Announced

forest_lgThe spring foraging season is just around the corner. I’m partnering with The Field Trip Society and Bainbridge Island Parks & Recreation to offer a variety of classes for beginner and intermediate foragers.

Due to high demand for these classes, some sold out immediately, before I could even post them here. I will try to offer more in coming months (stay tuned), although shellfish classes are largely dependent on tide schedules.

Classes

* For Bainbridge Island Parks & Rec classes, please call 206-842-2306 x1 to enroll or be put on a waiting list for future classes.

Slide Lectures

Wild Greens Workshop

heyday_farm2It’s that time again for those of us on the West Coast. The woods and meadows are waking up. Wild greens—tasty, nutritious, free—decorate the woods and forest fringes.

To ring in the spring harvest, I’ll be teaching a foraging and cooking workshop at Heyday Farm on Bainbridge Island on March 27, with a focus on wild spring greens, especially stinging nettles. As I’ve said here before, nettles are the backbone of my spring foraging. I use nettles in soups, pastas, and sauces, and I put up large quantities of nettle pesto to have on hand year-round.

At Heyday, we’ll spend the morning foraging in the woods around the farm, learning about and harvesting what’s in season. Back at the historic Heyday Farm kitchen and farmhouse, we’ll learn several ways to pair and prepare our catch. The class will include a satisfying lunch. Cost is $110. Please sign up through Bainbridge Island Parks and Recreation, or by calling (206) 842-2306.

Razor Clam Ceviche

The second annual Razor Clam Hootenanny, in association with the Bainbridge Island Parks & Rec outdoor program, was a huge success. Twenty eager students gathered last weekend at a sprawling house on Mockrocks Beach to dig clams and feast on the bounty. Because of the spring tide change, we were able to bookend an evening dig on Saturday with a Sunday morning dig for maximum limit action. Many of us nabbed clams on Friday evening as well. A three-dig limit of 45 mossbacks makes for a full bag o’ clams!

The digging on Saturday evening was a little more challenging than either Friday evening or Sunday morning. Heavy surf meant the clams weren’t showing like usual, and regular rogue waves had clammers scrambling for high ground. Still, we got our clams, and some of us learned that it’s not always like shooting tuna in a can. I welcome these tough conditions because they force the clammer to hone her abilities and develop a sharp eye for even the most cryptic of shows.

Saturday night’s feast was epic, with two varieties of New England Clam Chowder (one, my grandmother’s recipe, with bacon, thyme, and a thin milky broth; the other thick and creamy with celery); a ceviche with razors, cod, and shrimp; panko-fried razors; and a hearty Pasta alle Vongole. We had the kind folks from Treveri Cellars on hand pouring their excellent bubbly and John Adams of Sound Fresh Clams & Oysters was shuckin’ and jivin’ as he produced platter after platter of Skookum Point Olys, Kumamotos, and Pacific oysters.

It was a boisterous, fun-loving crowd, and the pre-dawn wake-up call for one more dig on Sunday morning was not without its difficulties.

***

While in New York City recently I had a good meal at a new place in Soho called Charlie Bird. One of the standouts was a razor clam ceviche. The Atlantic razor clamEnsis directus, is very different in appearance from our beefy West Coast variety, Siliqua patula, and more deserving of the name. They’re smaller, and quite long and thin—like the straight razor of old. The ceviche came prepared on several clam shells. It was unmixed, with each ingredient—pickled peppers, onion, and so on—in colorful little piles. You were meant to slurp it all together in one bite like an oyster.

Such a presentation is difficult with our big local razors (see top photo), since it’s more than a mouthful, but there’s no reason why we can’t use the shell as a serving dish, or even mix up the ingredients at table right in the shell.

 

I don’t see West Coast razors as ceviche often, whereas it seems to be all the rage right now on the East Coast. Maybe this is because of the presence of domoic acid, a naturally occurring marine toxin in the Pacific (and the inspiration for Hitchcock’s The Birds) that can cause shellfish amnesiac poisoning and even death in high doses. The thing is, this toxin can’t be cooked out of razor clams, so there’s no difference between fried razors and ceviche with regard to domoic acid. Thankfully, state fish & wildlife departments carefully monitor the health of our shellfish.

This recipe is Japan Goes South of the Border. I use only the clam siphons as I prefer to save my diggers (the razor clam’s tender foot) for fried clams; besides, the siphon has a snappiness that’s perfect for ceviche. The amounts below are estimates; depends on the size of your clams and vegetables, and besides, with a little common sense it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out the right proportions. You can easily halve it for a smaller batch.

1 dozen razor clam siphons, cleaned and diced
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
2-3 jalapeño peppers, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
large handful cilantro, chopped
2 limes
aji-mirin
rice vinegar
tortillas, warmed
avocado, sliced
salt and pepper

1. Squeeze limes and mix juice with diced razor clams and garlic in a small non-reactive bowl. Season with salt and pepper plus a good splash of aji-mirin to taste and set aside. A general rule of thumb for ceviche is 1/2 cup citrus juice per pound of fish.

2. Cover diced red onion with rice vinegar and set aside. Chop together jalapeño pepper and cilantro if presenting ceviche unmixed.

3. Refrigerate at least an hour, preferably several hours.

4. Serve, mixed or unmixed, in razor clam shells or a small bowl with warm tortillas and avocado. Serves 4.

I have to say, this was easily one of the best ceviches I’ve ever had. Razor clams have a pleasing al dente texture. Steeped in the acidic lime juice, their flavor mellows, and aji-mirin adds a perfect finish. I’ll be making razor clam ceviche after every dig from now on.

New Classes Announced

classes1Happy new year everyone, and may it be a year filled with wild foods and outdoor adventure. As I write in my January column for Seattle Magazine, this is the year to get outside and turn over rocks like a kid again.

To help with such resolutions, I’ve got new classes lined up for spring 2014. Click here or on the  “Classes” link in the menu above for more details.

Northern California Workshop

I’m honored to be part of Marin Organic‘s “Food for Thought” series this spring. Join me on March 31 in Bolinas for a foraging and cooking workshop that’s sure to be a nourishing day for all. We’ll spend a few hours outside identifying and gathering wild foods before returning to a nearby hearth to cook our catch and enjoy a local libation.

The workshop is 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and costs $80 (including a copy of my book, Fat of the Land). Local forager Kevin Feinstein will be on hand as well to offer advice and sign copies of his new book, The Bay Area Forager. Accompany us for a fun day split between the field and kitchen, with a chance to learn handy skills, make new friends, and enjoy the regional bounty.

New Classes Announced

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be returning again this year to Bainbridge Island Parks & Recreation to teach foraging classes. To see class descriptions, click here and scroll down to pages 35 -36 to “Bounty of the Land.” You can also find updated class listings (plus readings, lectures, and so on)  posted in the right column of this blog near the top, under the heading “Upcoming Events & Classes.”

Spring classes scheduled so far:

  • March 28, Stinging Nettles: We’ll divide our time between the field and the kitchen, foraging tasty and nutritious stinging nettles and then preparing a delicious recipe.
  • April 7, Shellfish: Learn how to dig clams, shuck oysters, and cook a gourmet meal right on the beach.
  • May 7, Shellfish: Learn how to dig clams, shuck oysters, and cook a gourmet meal right on the beach.

Additionally, I’ll be offering my wild edible nature walk again this spring, an easy 3-hour ramble in a state park near Seattle. Stay tuned for dates.

Forager’s Double Header

***THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT***

Clam Bake with Hank & Lang
Join author-foragers Hank Shaw and myself for a memorable day on the shellfish beds of Puget Sound. Bring a clam rake, not your pillow! We’ll be digging limits of Manila clams and other bivalves to cook right on the beach.

Learn the finer points of shellfish habitat, identification, processing, and cuisine. You’ll need a bucket, rubber boots, garden cultivator (either hand-held or long-handled is fine), shellfish license, and the beverage of your choice. Lunch will be a feast of clams, along with other goodies provided by the instructors. The cost is $75 and includes signed copies of each author’s book, a $43 value by itself. Class meets Friday, July 29, at 10:30 a.m. in the South Sound, an hour and fifteen minutes from Seattle.

Space is limited. To sign up, please email me at finspotcook AT gmail dot com.

About the instructors:

A former line cook and political reporter, Hank Shaw runs the blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, twice nominated for a James Beard Award and winner of two awards for Best Blog by the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast is his first book.

Langdon Cook is author of the book and blog Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager. He is a columnist for Seattle Magazine and a frequent speaker and lecturer on wild foods and the outdoors.

Kiss My Geoduck

This spring’s shellfish classes have been more fun than I could have imagined. Any day playing at the shore is a day well spent, but when you add in a mix of interesting folks and the promise of fresh seafood cooked on site, the bonhomie is nearly boundless.

Those of us who have been digging clams for years sometimes forget there’s a learning curve to seafood foraging—from understanding the different habitats and species to knowing what tools to use. Even the processing and cooking of shellfish can be intimidating to a first-timer.

I should know. Despite having been a  regular digger of littlenecks, razors, cockles, and a variety of other bivalves, it was only in the last couple years that I started going after geoducks. Why the wait? I suppose it was a variety of things—their size, the fact that they’re available only during the lowest tides of the year, the specialized cooking techniques, and so on. Geoducks are the big time.

When Jeff Ozimek at Bainbridge Island Parks & Rec (pictured below holding a ‘duck and a small horse clam) proposed a geoduck class, I was admittedly skeptical. Even a seasoned geoducker doesn’t always get his ‘duck. Instead, we initiated the foraging curriculum with some introductory classes that tackled the basics, gathering limits of littlenecks and oysters and then cooking them up at a picnic shelter. But the interest in a geoduck class was high, so we took the plunge.

Despite a late start (the Hood Canal Bridge closed for nuclear submarine traffic) and a somewhat chaotic beginning, during which a few ‘ducks escaped our furious digging efforts as an insurmountable tide flooded in, the class regrouped farther up the beach and managed to dig two geoducks. Everyone had the chance to reach deep into a hole to feel the rubbery neck of a geoduck and then contemplate what it would take to excavate around its shell and wrestle the thing out. Some of us got good and muddy, too.

The biggest letdown was tussling with a huge clam only to find out it was a horse and not a ‘duck, a mistake that can usually be prevented by seeing (or feeling) the tip of the siphon before digging. (The geoduck’s siphon tip is relatively smooth.) But with clam shows all around us and a posse of hungry diggers, it was catch as catch can—and no surprise we rode a few ponies.

Digging ‘ducks (or any clams, for that matter) will give you an appetite. Back at the picnic shelter everyone pitched in to make sashimi and ceviche with the geoduck’s raw neck meat and stir-fried body meat with snap peas, carrots, and onions. Most of the students had never tasted geoduck before. They were just as taken as I was upon first bite by its sweetness and satisfying crunch. The finish on a bite of geoduck sashimi is akin to another local delicacy, the Olympia oyster: that initial sweet clam flavor leads to a slightly coppery or metallic aftertaste that mingles nicely with a drink of white wine or a beer.

Two geoducks fed about a dozen people in all. Not a bad ratio of clam to digger.