Foraging and Wild Flowers
The Fraser River Lodge
Growing up in the Fraser Valley means growing up surrounded by mountains and having easy access to nature. Although I wasn't interested in foraging or the things growing around me when I was younger I did spend an absorbent amount of time in the woods hiking or mountain biking. This later proved to be fortuitous as I gained a strong understanding of the surrounding area and trail networks which I use today when searching for mushrooms or wild edible plants.
It wasn’t till I was working at Willows Inn on the Lummi island (a small 23km island off the coast of Washington State) that I became interested In foraging. The menu was hyper local for the most part relying on things found around the island and the Chef tasked me with heading up the foraging program for the season. Many varieties of mushrooms, berries and wild herbs grow on the island and during my bike ride into work each day I would have to explore the wooded areas to find what I needed for the dinner service that day.
At the Fraser River Lodge, Chef Justin and I try to incorporate what we forage from the local area into everything we do. From juniper infusions, cedar butters, elderflower syrups, smoking with local alderwood and of course garnishing with the abundant wild flowers that grow along the river, the possibilities are endless.
Come Spring and early Summer, wildflowers and wild herbs start to grow in mass throughout the Fraser Valley, and in the kitchen we take full advantage of this. On almost a daily basis the kitchen team will head down the river and see what's available to us for use that evening. While Cedar is the most common thing we gather (using it predominantly as decoration for cheese platters and charcuterie boards), field mustard, woodruff, fiddleheads, peppercress and of course stinging nettle are also heavily utilized in our day to day.Proximity to the Fraser River provides easy access to these ingredients and incorporating them into the food and aesthetics of the Lodge is one of the things that makes this place so special.
If you're interested in foraging or plant identification I recommend using the app “PictureThis”. And always remember the golden rule, if you don’t know what something is don’t put it in your mouth and wash anything you pick up off the ground before eating it! It is also important to ensure that public areas are not being treated with any pesticide, herbicide or other chemicals.
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