When spring rolls
around each year I suppose I’m not much different than an antelope or a moose.
I just want to pound my hoofs and test my horns with the rest of the old bucks.
The arrival of spring often hits me like a blast of warm wind in the face. I
might be walking through one of Sonoma County’s glorious town squares minding
my own business, when the preponderance of long legs and short skirts sashaying
against a backdrop of daffodils, nudges my soul back to life. In that glorious
moment the possibility of a dull winter’s day morphs into an explosion of the
senses, and gratitude for the simple pleasures (not that there is anything
simple about long legs and short skirts).
a chef I have learned to love and honor the bounty of all seasons, but spring
signals a new year of growth and promise, all of which is distilled into the
vibrancy and intensity of young roots and shoots bursting with flavor and
color. Sonoma County is composed of diverse topography stretching many hundreds
of square miles from the wild coast to our pristine inland vineyards. Within
these boundaries, a vast assortment of wild edible flowers, shoots, mushrooms,
berries, game and assorted sea foods thrive. For me the joy is all in the art
of collecting these treasures and while gulping down lots of fresh air and
scenery in the process.
the general awareness of foods infinite variety has greatly increased since I
began my career, many people are still largely oblivious to the fact that often
a great meal can be put together simply by taking a walk around the
neighborhood. Not to mention that many of the tastiest spring treats, such as
young nettles, would not even be considered edible by most. Fact is that only a
little over a century ago apples were growing in wild groves waiting to be
plucked by Native Americans in need of a quick snack. Most of the foods we
know, love, and consume with great veracity today began as part of the
indigenous wild landscape of our country.
myself am a consummate forager and I have been since I was a little kid. My
home is full of rocks, feathers, sea glass, sea salt, dried mushrooms, and a
whole host of other goodies I collect during my frequent forays into the
country side of
is one big treasure hunt, both in the wilderness as well the nooks and crannies
of our local towns.
are so many things to choose from I suppose I can only touch the surface, so I
suppose it is best to share some of my favorite treats, the kinds of simple
foods that are abundant in this area each year, if for only a few weeks every
season. But that for me is what provides the joy. Seasonal eating can be an
adventure. For instance, when the strawberries or fava beans first begin
appearing in May and June I use them in almost all of my menus and every year I
try to come up with new applications. This way I continue to expand my
repertoire with these products and my knowledge of how to capture the most of
their flavor, texture and color. During the time strawberries and fava’s are
available I cook with them so much that when the month is over, I often find
myself swearing I’d never eat strawberries
again. But invariably, after eleven of keeping my promise not to eat these
things my interest and vigor renews all over again.