Forage the forest floor, fish the mountain creek, and relearn respect for nature’s abundant gift of authentic ingredients. Following in the footsteps of culinary ground-breakers like Chef René Redzepi (Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark) and Chef Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken, Åre, Sweden), Alpine Modern wanders into the woods . . . where the wild things are.
The wilderness-to-table movement is the antithesis of getting any product from anywhere in the world anytime, in season or not. Hunting and gathering for your meal du jour takes advantage of what grows or lives in the place where you are, at the time an ingredient is ripe and ready. The food you eat is your connection to the present and to where you are in the world.
"The food you eat is your connection to the present and to where you are in the world."
Foraged food takes the concept of eating local yet further. All around the world, entire restaurants are now based on the principle of serving what nature offers right outside the door — the menu written by place and time. Chef René Redzepi at restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, is conceivably the progenitor of a culinary counterculture that looks to the local landscape to rediscover an innately authentic fine cuisine, made from what is.
Seasons once again have significance. So, what to serve during the winter months, if FedExing in- gredients from halfway around the world conflicts with your food philosophy? Our ancestors’ preser- vation methods—pickling, jarring, canning, curing, kippering—have dwindled to all but forgotten skills. Magnus Nilsson, head chef of Fäviken Magasinet restaurant in Northern Sweden and au- thor of the complementing cookbook Fäviken, is a master curator of these past techniques, carefully maintaining the traditions like a dying language.
"Seasons once again have significance."
A Dish, Discovered
Recipes and shopping lists are needless in foraging for nature’s edible glory, since searching the forest for a particular wild vegetable could prove a foolish attempt. Look around instead, mind wide open. Awareness comes before inspiration.
"Recipes and shopping lists are needless in foraging for nature’s edible glory, since searching the forest for a particular wild vegetable could prove a foolish attempt."
Granted, rambling meadows, curious what you may cook, can be daunting, whether you’re expecting friends over or feeding your über-exclusive restaurant’s patrons. The unknown, the serendipity, the exploratory idea of discovering, aha, it’s porcini for dinner, become part of the adventure. What’s more, wild ingredients will vary widely, and you may not find perfect bunches of white asparagus under a spruce tree. Nevertheless, anytime you pull an ingredient out of the ground or catch it from the creek, you are going to respect its more distinct, more identifiable flavor the more for it.
Alpine Modern’s resident culinary mastermind, Colin Kirby (El Bulli, Spain, 2008), knows to step out of the way of fresh, pure ingredients. If life deals him morels, he lets them shine by applying minimal technique.
Here, the mindful chef curates a spread of dishes and drinks that taste of the here and now. Go wild with him. △
White Asparagus and Morel Salad
A delicate side dish with morels poached in beurre monte, asparagus and egg on ramp top puree. Recipe »
Smoked Trout Salad
A wild and fresh dish with your smoked catch and fiddlehead ferns with its great woodsy, almost bitter flavor reminiscent of the forest floor. Recipe »
A fizzy gin cocktail with homemade huckleberry-sage syrup. Recipe »