Forage and Feast II

Everyone at the table for the feast

Every spring, I lead an intrepid group of foodies out into the wilds of New York City to gather seasonal wild edibles like Ramps (wild leeks), Fiddleheads, Stinging Nettles, Violets, Field Garlic, Burdock and Japanese Knotweed. It’s as much about learning how to source your own food as it is about cooking it, and it’s a great way to become more familiar with the food you consume.

Di Ana digging up ramps

Despite a drizzly morning and cooler weather, we had a record turn-out this year, with over 20 people showing up to gather and prepare dinner. Food bloggers Stephane, Ulla, Jessica and Giff showed up to lend a hand in the field and in the kitchen, and “Ice” the Jack Russell even made an appearance to lend moral support.

Ice the Jack Russel foraging

A field of edible violets

The wet winter and warm weather we’ve had the past few weeks made for a strong showing of violets, and the ramps were more mature than usual for this time of year. Unfortunately, this also meant we missed the very short fiddlehead season, and most of the ferns had grown past the point of being edible.

Fiddleheads poking up from the forest floor

Ramps and cuckoo flowers

After gathering a cornucopia of ramps, we returned to the Lab 24/7 Kitchen to come up with a menu, and cook a feast for all the hungry foragers. I’d placed a huge Fresh Direct order of local and seasonal produce and meats we could use, Ulla brought grass-fed beef from her family’s ranch, and Stephane showed up with a carload of less pedestrian ingredients like vincotto and tuile batter that took our meal to the next level.

Japanese knotweed cocktails

Everyone brought a bottle of wine, or liquor and it wasn’t long before the thirsty foragers started making ramptini’s with Giff’s pickled ramps. Jessica came up with a delicious concoction of ginger liquor and muddled Japanese Knotweed that was served with a straw made out of Japanese Knotweed.

Continue on to the next page for the menu and feast.

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  • Kalofagas Greek Food

    This is a very cool outing…wish I lived there to join you!

  • norecipes

    Maybe you can make another trip down this way, next year around this time;-)

  • sharigoodman

    What a great day! This sounds very cool and the food looks wonderful! But stinging nettle ice cream!!?? Great photos too! Sounds fun!!

  • norecipes

    Yep, tastes kinda like green tea ice cream, except we added too much
    tahitian vanilla so it tasted more like vanilla than nettles.

  • Jen Yu

    I love that you guys are doing this annually now! So awesome. It looks like a lot of fun (hey, food bloggers KNOW how to eat!) Great photos, Marc!

  • giffc

    it was still a delicious way to end the evening :)

  • ilinap

    WOW. I love fiddlehead ferns and was bummed to not see them in the market this year. Your photos make me wish I ate meat. I'd love to tag along on the foraging next time!

  • norecipes

    We had 2 vegetarians in attendance and I didn't get any photos but
    there were plenty of non-meat dishes. Would love to have you next

  • lisaiscooking

    What a great day! The menu sounds amazing. I want to try ramp ravioli now.

  • Ulla

    Marc, what an amazing event and your photos are simply gorgeous! Your braised lamb breast was simply fantastic! . Also your nettle ice cream was one of the best ice creams I have ever tasted. Goodness, I am getting hungry!

  • zenchef

    Ouch, my head… Did we really finish all the wine?

    Thanks so much for organizing this, Marc. It's such a great event with such a nice bunch of people. I'm already looking forward to next year's! There's something about cooking in a joyful chaos that i really enjoy. :)

    The photo of the rack of lamb was taken in the worst light possible and it came out fantastic. How do you do this?!

  • joannova

    What an appropriately named event! Looks wonderful.

  • frenchcooking

    wow I've just had dinner but your braised lamb breast and artichoke dish makes me hungry again! It's mouthwatering 😀

  • Claudia

    I wonder what could be found in our Big Island forests? Maybe you should consider doing an expedition out here. That feast looked fabulous.

  • Manggy

    Damn, that all looks good. Of course my eyes sped to what the dessert was, and I am impressed that there was one!

  • syrie

    Simple gorgeous Marc. We need to something like this in Australia.

  • Stella

    Nice-it looks like you all had a great time! I am so curious about these fiddleheads. I've seen them in a few pics here and there, and I just don't know if we have them around here. They look oddly delicious to me though…

  • Veggie Belly

    wow! looks like an amazing foraging trip!

  • Kristin Conroy

    Wow, Marc! What an awesome idea, you guys must have been in foraging foodie heaven! I'd love to come next year…how do I get involved?

  • norecipes

    Honestly, fiddleheads are novel because of their very short season,
    but they're nothing special. They have a texture kind of like
    asparagus but with less flavour. Ramps and Stinging Nettles are the
    more interesting wild vegetables we get around here.

  • norecipes

    Hi Kristin, we'd love to have you come out next year with us. Put it
    on your calendar to check out in early April next year and
    sign up when it's announced.

  • jentinyurbankitchen

    This looks really fun! What a great idea – and the food looks awesome! Let us know when you do this next year!

  • my little expat kitchen

    Seems like you guys had a terrific time and enjoyed some delectable food! That's what it's all about. Too bad I live in another continent. I would've loved to be a part of it :)

  • staceysnacks

    Looks as beautiful as it did last year.
    The lamb and ramp pizza are to die for!
    What a nice spring tradition!

  • Rachel (S[d]OC)

    What a gorgeous feast and what fun finding it. I'm useless at foraging! I look for ramps every year and never seem to find them. Well, you did say the wilds of NYC, and I guess I'm too far out in the 'burbs. 😉

  • norecipes

    Try looking in a wooded area near water. They grow in wet shady areas.

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  • liz@zested

    Looks like you guys outdid yourself this year!

  • liz@zested

    Looks like you guys outdid yourself this year!

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  • Jonathan Jeng

    I live in Queens and was wondering if this foraging adventure is exclusive? Or can I join the next time you guys go? :)


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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