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It's Foraging Season

Chef in her element, foraging for autumn olives

Yes, the beaches are beautiful and ski season is a thrill, but we would argue that there's no better time to live in New England than in the Fall. Summer is often the go to season of abundance, but there's a wealth of wonders growing in our fields and forests, if you know what to look for.

Chef Erin has been foraging for years, collecting food sourced from the fields, forests and shores of New England, some of which can be found right outside your door, even in the city. Crabapple, blackberry, raspberry, and other fruits are the most common berries and fruits to be found in the fields and forests of New England. Elderberry trees lend flowers in the spring and berries in the early fall. There are some less commonly known but delicious fruit bearing trees in our forests as well. Elaeagnus umbellata, the autumn olive, is one of them. Indigenous to eastern Asia, it is a hardy, aggressive, invasive species becoming a troublesome shrub in New England as it takes over habitat for native shrubs.

One of the best ways to tackle an invasive species, other than destroying all the plants, is to turn them into a food source. As their name suggests, these shrubs fruit with small, bright red berries in the early fall. The flavor is similar to a lingonberry, sweet, sour and a little vegetal. We use the berries in a house mostarda, an Italian style sauce made from mustard seed and candied fruit. This serves as a beautiful compliment to rich ragu or meat sauces, like the lamb ragu we use in our fall pasta dish.

Black walnuts are another of Chef's favorite forages in the fall. These majestic native trees are prized for their beautiful, dark, hardwood, but also as an abundant food source. The baseball sized fruits are cracked open to reveal a black pit. Once cured and dried for a few weeks, we soak ours in neutral spirits, along with spices and turn it into black walnut nocino, a gorgeous amaro with a rich black color.

Mushrooms are abundant in the fall months, but are very intimidating to most novice foragers due to their less desirable qualities (poisoning, inducing hallucination, or sometimes even death!). Chef has a few varieties that she feels confident foraging for, such as hedgehogs, black trumpets, morels, chanterelles or chicken and hen of the woods, but recommends bringing a seasoned forager along with you on mushroom hunting sessions.

You'll see many foraged ingredients featured in our fall a la carte and cocktail menu this year. Come say hi and partake in the bountiful foraged foods of New England!

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