Story Ideas

Discover the wild side of Canada’s cuisine.

Make your plate the final destination for mushrooms, wild ginger, leeks, giant spot prawns, sea asparagus and so much more.

26 February 2014

Suggested tweet: Discover the wild side of Canada’s cuisine by harvesting your own delicious bounty #explorecanada

Take eating local a step further by foraging for your own wild food in Canada: pluck a hefty chanterelle, grab a crab from a trap or dig up delicious root veggies you never knew existed. Hook up with folks who will open your eyes to the delicious bounty of Canada’s forests and waters, teaching you how to hunt and harvest goodies from coast to coast to coast all year round, with your plate as the final destination.

Mushrooms are the most popular delicacy to pursue—usually in spring and fall—but it’s important to go with an expert. Foraging doesn’t get any more urban than in downtown Toronto’s Don Valley, where a morning’s hike might turn up morels for lunch. Or learn how to stalk up to 60 kinds of edible mushrooms including celli, hedgehog, pine, cauliflowers and chicken-of-the-woods in the woods of Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley with author/chef Bill Jones, who then cooks them up in his Deerholme Farm kitchen. For more mushrooming, head out with a nearby Benedictine monk, Brother Michael.

Trout lilies, wild ginger, watercress and leeks are some of the often-overlooked greens that might be on your DIY menu during a guided stroll on trails along the Avon and Thames rivers in Ontario’s Victorian city of Stratford. At Nova Scotia’s Trout Point Lodge, chefs take guests into Acadian forests in search of fiddleheads, wild cranberries and unusual root veggies you learn to cook up in their pro kitchen. And inthe wilds outside Golden, BC, Northstar Bushcraft will teach you how to literally eat the forest, from English holly and horsetails to fireweed and the inner bark of most trees.

On the West Coast, haul up your own appies from a prawn trap with a marine biologist in the deep fjord waters off Brentwood Bay Resort just outside Victoria. Toss those plump giant spot prawns onto the marina barbeque to accompany a chilled glass of BC wine. Savour a garlicky Dungeness crab feast on a Vancouver beach with crustaceans you learned to deftly extract from a trap or hit the beach at Sooke during low tide between spring and fall with Vancouver Island’s Seaweed Lady, Diane Bernard, and nibble some of 300 edible varieties harvested from what she calls “one great, big, wild, exotic underwater garden.”

On the East Coast, devour a lobster you caught yourself with a veteran lobsterman off New Brunswick’s Shediac Bay while listening to toe-tapping Acadian tunes and “old salt” stories about a life spent at sea. 

You could leave the foraging to a legendary chef such as François Brouillard, who has been combing the Quebec countryside for ingredients like pig weed and cat’s tongue and creating culinary masterpieces at his iconic La Table des Jardins Sauvages restaurant in L’Épiphanie, 45 minutes outside Montréal, for almost three decades. Turbot with sea asparagus and a purée of wild radish, or shrimp on a bed of wild salt herbs, lovage, crinkleroot leaf and bee balm anyone?

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