AFAR Experience Seattle – Misadventures in Foraging

After an exploratory morning at MOHAI and a fun stop at Love City Love, us AFAR Experiencers broke out into individual excursions for an afternoon of more intimate encounters with Seattle. There were a lot of interesting options to choose from, but my heart stopped when I saw the name Langdon Cook.

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Langdon-Cook
Photo credit: Seattle Magazine Vimeo

In May 2012 I came back from having the meal of a lifetime at The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, and I began following news stories on the chef, Blaine Wetzel. During that time he was nominated by Food & Wine magazine as one of the best new chefs for 2012. In the interview he mentioned Langdon’s blog Fat of the Land and I became a faithful reader. I am currently “devouring” his second book, The Mushroom Hunters on my commute and now have a constant hankering for morels…but I digress.

Grilled Shitake mushroom
Grilled Shitake mushroom from my meal at Willows Inn

When I saw that Langdon was leading a forage in a nearby forest, I signed up toute suite! He is foraging rock star and I wanted to meet him!

Mind you we are talking Seattle. In March.

You guessed it. Rain.

Because we had had a full morning and midday of activities I didn’t think about wearing the raincoat that hung in the closet in my hotel room. Instead I wore my down jacket (yes, down feathers are just awesome for the rain…), my converse and my Ona camera bag.

And of course it was pouring down rain.

But who wouldn’t want to wander the woods with this handsome devil?

Langdon-Cook
Photo credit John Valls

Langdon graciously led us through Seward Park, a park still within Seattle’s boundaries with deep forest growth. He pointed out as best as he could the varieties of edible plants, flowers and berries available to us should we choose to return during the proper seasons. He teased us with amazing recipes for various harvests, so much so, we began to insist he invite our small group back for dinner!

We peppered him with questions as we walked the forest paths and learned about the [mostly] hidden ecosystem of mushroom pickers that support regional restaurants and farmer’s markets from Vancouver to Northern California, it is the fascinating subject of his latest book.

Soon we left the path and despite the rain coming down pretty hard, I was doing a pretty good job of not being my normal clumsy self.

Until I wasn’t.

One big step too many and my Converse lost their footing and down I went. Into a giant mud puddle. My whole right backside covered in mud.

Yep, just me.

Wasn’t hurt and what could I do? So I just went with it.

I had a great time. I learned a lot. And I got to meet a local hero, someone who I admire and who, turned out to be a super nice guy.

Mud and all, it was my favorite part of my AFAR Experience Seattle trip.

How about you? Have you ever foraged? Have you ever ate a foraged meal?

 

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52 Comments

  1. Veena Vinyas
    March 31, 2014

    awesomr photography..

    Reply
  2. Danielle
    March 31, 2014

    That sounds so fun. I love mushrooms!

    Reply
  3. Kelly Maxwell
    March 31, 2014

    I have always wanted to see Seattle, so beautiful!! Sorry you had rain.

    Reply
  4. Raine
    March 31, 2014

    I’ve never eaten a foraged meal. It sounds like you has a great time despite your wardrobe choices and muddy rear. I promise I’m not laughing, just smiling. That was very nice of him to do the dinner, there is nothing more exciting than meeting someone you have always admired and you had a full day with him. Even with the rain the location is beautiful, it must have been inspiring.

    Reply
  5. Jacquie
    April 1, 2014

    Andi, the MacCallum House in Mendocino holds a foraged wild mushroom winemaker’s dinner every November. Eric Schram is the wild mushroom personality/forager who gives a little talk about each mushroom that is used in Alan Kantor’s creative dishes. Mmm mmm good! Wines are from Graziano Family of Wines. A deliciously excellent evening!

    Reply
  6. How much fun!!!

    Reply
  7. Amanda @ MoveLoveEat
    November 24, 2014

    I haven’t foraged before but I really want to learn more about the edible plants and what not around our area!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Amanda, from what I have seen there are people like this everywhere! Also, so many chefs are doing stages under Rene Redzepi at Noma in Copenhagen and returning to their native lands to open restaurants based on foraging, I bet there is someone in your area.

      Reply
  8. Deidre
    November 24, 2014

    Beautiful photos! What an exciting adventure.

    Reply
  9. Cara (@StylishGeek)
    November 24, 2014

    I lived in Seattle for almost a year…I wonder why I never tried a forage!??!! And I happen to love hiking! Thank you for your post…gives me the thought of trying this out perhaps in the northern part of the bay area where we have more luscious forests. Or maybe I should visit Seattle again. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Cara, I lived up there for several years myself, my parents even longer and didn’t know about it! That is why I love AFAR, for these types of experiences!

      Reply
  10. Lauren (@pinkonthecheek)
    November 24, 2014

    OH no! I can’t believe you fell in the mud and kept going! You are such a trooper!!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Lauren, I didn’t have much choice, but I did do it with spunk!

      Reply
  11. Heather | girlichef
    November 24, 2014

    Oh yeah, totally worth it! I’m a fan of his, as well – I can imagine what an awesome experience this was. Plus, I love Seattle!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Heather, he is so great. I want to do one of his party events – forage and then cook and eat on the beach!

      Reply
      1. Heather | girlichef
        November 27, 2014

        Dreamy!

        Reply
  12. Angelic Sinova
    November 24, 2014

    I’ve never eaten a foraged meal but it sounds like you had a great time! I’d love to try a foraged meal soon <3

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Angelic, it was a really cool experience. I bet there is someone, somewhere near you that does it!

      Reply
  13. natalie
    November 24, 2014

    What a cool experience! I am not an outdoorsy person by a long stretch, but I would happily traipse through the woods if there was tasty food in it for me at the end! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Natalie, we didn’t have the chance to do any cooking, but we joked about it. But Langdon does lead excursions that end up with cooking everything you gathered on the beach, I want to do that!

      Reply
  14. Alexa
    November 24, 2014

    Never thought of doing something like that in Seattle, may have to try it out next time I’m there. Your images are so pretty!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Alexa, it was really fun and Langdon also does outings where you gather food and cook it on the beach with a big party!

      Reply
  15. Nancy
    November 24, 2014

    No, I’ve never went foraging before, sounds cool!

    Reply
  16. Lix
    November 24, 2014

    I’ve never done this, but probably would for the pictures depending on the path! This AFAR thing sounds amazing. I’m jealous because I’ve always wanted to visit Seattle. I think I’d love it there. I think I’d probably love to live there, too.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Lix, it is definitely an area of the country that I want to eventually live in. I went to high school there and want to get back in the future. Love to visit there as often as possible.

      Reply
  17. Erica Brooks
    November 24, 2014

    Awww sucks about the fall in the mud. It’s great that you didn’t let it ruin your trip.

    Reply
  18. Lindsay
    November 24, 2014

    Fun!! I love all the greenery! Living in Arizona I dont see so much of it 🙁

    Reply
  19. Jess
    November 24, 2014

    Awesome photos!!

    Reply
  20. Chelsea
    November 24, 2014

    What a cool thing to do while in Seattle! I never would’ve thought of this.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Chelsea, I was really surprised too. I lived up there for several years and was completely unaware of this area!

      Reply
  21. Shell
    November 24, 2014

    These photos are stunning. This would be such an amazing experience.

    Reply
  22. Claire
    November 24, 2014

    Amazing pictures and sounds like a great experience

    Reply
  23. Amanda Love
    November 25, 2014

    Sounds like it was a really great trip and happy he turned out to be a nice guy. They’re not always. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Amanda, so true….

      Reply
  24. Shipra
    November 25, 2014

    Sounds like quite the adventure/experience!! <3

    Reply
  25. Erica
    November 25, 2014

    I have no idea who that is haha, but so glad you had such a fun experience!

    Reply
  26. Brenda
    November 25, 2014

    Wow! Such a gorgeous spot to forage for mushrooms!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Brenda, it was, but it was all still in suburbia which made it strange!

      Reply
  27. karissa
    November 25, 2014

    Great photos. I’ve never foraged before.

    Reply
  28. Tammi
    November 25, 2014

    Wet, cold and muddy — all for your culinary crush. 🙂 I love that you picked yourself up and kept going. It sounds like you had an amazing adventure, met a chef you respect, and learned about mushrooms. Good for you!

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Tammi, it was fun and I guess I definitely made an impression!

      Reply
  29. Celeste
    November 25, 2014

    Alas! I have yet to forage or forage a meal!! I have so much living yet to do! PS Love your blog! PSS That handsome devil of yours seriously looks like a model in that picture.

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Celeste, he is not my handsome devil, but he is a charmer!

      Reply
  30. Myrabev
    November 26, 2014

    Sounds like you had a wonderful trip mud and all

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Myrabev, it was fun! I would like to do it again under dryer conditions!

      Reply
  31. Katie Matthews
    November 26, 2014

    Andi, it would have been me to fall on my backside too! Sounds like an amazing walk – I’d love to know more about foraging. I’d like to think i’d know how to survive in the wilderness if it ever happened (hopefully not!)

    Katie <3

    Reply
    1. Andi Fisher
      November 27, 2014

      @Katie, well guessing by your hunting posts, as long as you have your rifle, you will be just fine!

      Reply
  32. kendall
    November 29, 2014

    What an adventure! This looks like so much fun!

    Reply
  33. Ashley Taylor
    November 30, 2014

    How fun!

    Reply
  34. Sam
    November 30, 2014

    So fun!! I’m so jealous! I love rain and mushrooms and I’m just so jealous!

    Reply
  35. Winter White
    January 12, 2015

    These photos are amazing! This sounds like quite an adventure!

    Reply
  36. […] bag, a Bowery in field tan is an older model that doesn’t have the waxed canvas and so it got quite a beating a few years ago in Seattle so I am cautious about bringing it out in wet weather (the newer versions of this bag have the […]

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