A beautiful day for a private wild foods walk, yesterday. We gathered behind the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza, next to Prospect Park.
The trees are just beginning to leaf out. The best time of the spring year.
The women on the walk were enthusiastic about invasive edibles like garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).
And dogged in their attack on stubborn field garlic (Allium vineale).
These couple of April weeks are prime Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) shoot season.
Aggressive but beautiful lesser celandine (Ficaria verna) made pretty posies.
We admired but left untouched the choice shoots of devil's walking stick (Aralia spinosa). Called taronome in Japanese, it is a favourite of the spring sansai (mountain vegetables). I think this grove has been picked before, but it's not a plant whose harvest I encourage unless the land is private.At the end of the walk we enjoyed snacks that included a garlic-mustard-stuffed tomato roulade, Vietnamese spring rolls (above) filled with fresh bamboo shoots, chickweed, field garlic and winter cress. The black things that look like slugs are not slugs. They are soy-pickled mushrooms (see the Momofuku cookbook for the recipe).
... and an olive oil cake flavoured with spicebush (Lindera benzoin), above. Recipe provided by friend and neighbour Julia Miller (I used the spicebush instead of orange zest). The cake has a beautifully fine crumb. And two cups of good extra virgin olive oil!
My next walk in Central Park is fully booked but there are still spots left for Dead Horse Bay, beautiful Fort Tryon, and Inwood Hill Park.
See you there?