Its summer holidays for the EDB team (yes, we get those!) and the agenda is filled with eating, drinking and mountain biking. And everywhere we go, from the top of Mount Washington to the deepest, darkest forests of Squamish there are truckloads of wild edibles to keep us energized during our long days of adventuring. Chief amongst our foraged pick-me-ups are red huckleberries, which fully ripen right around now and can be found growing just about everywhere in BC.
Cherry blossom petals
The wind carries them away
Taking me with them
– Sean Condon, Vancouver, British Columbia (2014 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, Honourable Mention)
One of the more profound moments of my short time living in Vancouver occurred by accident on a frigid spring morning at the Burrard skytrain station. It was crazy early and I had my headphones on to blot out the world as much as possible. I exited the train amidst the rest of the rabble and had begun the long climb up the central staircase to the street when a teenage Japanese girl beside me squealed.
It wasn’t a terror squeal, or a “look, its Johnny Depp!” noise, but it was enough to make me look up just in time to see a massive cloud of cherry blossoms descend down the staircase towards us. All the sakura trees up top had dropped their collective payloads simultaneously to form a dense, beautiful and unnervingly slow-moving tsunami of pink petals.
Whoooosh! The station filled with flowers and everyone gasped. Children whooped and spun. Couples drew closer. Even the proto-hipster guy (who hadn’t looked up from his book, even while disembarking the train) acknowledged the moment with a “huh”. The spell lasted about four magical, luxurious minutes before reality resumed… And I’d realized that by tallying amongst the cherry blossoms I missed my bus and was going to be late for work. (more…)
In the fertile forests surrounding Cumberland there is a special spot, just a couple ‘o yards from their famous mountain biking trails (hint: just across the bridge and to the left) that so many of us crankjobs fly past without a second glance. In this dank little oasis, tucked away under salal bushes is a rotten old alder tree (nearly 15 meters long and god knows how long dead) that houses a secret, edible ecosystem.
Twice a year (once in the spring and later on in the autumn) this fallen titan sprouts hundred upon hundreds of snow white fungal tongues that quickly grow into families of winged oyster mushrooms. When in full bloom the tree is nearly covered in fungus and can be spotted from much farther away… Luckily for me no one is venturing that far off the trails. These guys are all mine!
Last year, right around this time I posted a couple ‘o Holiday Gift Guides; one for restaurant pros and one for geeky home cooks. I promised a third list focused on foragers and the gear they’d like to see stuffed in their thick woollen stockings (that sounded dirty) so here we go! (more…)
Nestled in the pine beetle-infested cockles of south-central BC, along the Cariboo Highway waaaaaay past the mountains is a sleepy little valley with a really strange name:
108 Mile House (along with a handful of other stops along this route) were once inns for American prospectors back in the 1850s providing a chance to rest and avoid bear attacks between civilization and the big Barkerville mines up North. Nowadays it’s a quiet little spot with a museum, clean public restrooms, poorly marked mountain biking trails, pissed-off looking cows and acres of wild raspberry bushes.
I’d never seen raspberries in the ‘ol wide open before! There my wife and I were, only a quarter mile from the highway, turning the map ‘round and ‘round in the dwindling light wondering if the local farmers would ever find our bodies when Crystal, surveying the endless meadow says, “Well, at least we won’t starve…” The bushes we’d been riding by for the last couple ‘o hours were all exploding with tiny red miracles of flavour. (more…)