Foraging Report

Howdy Friends and Family,

We continue to stretch our time at Cortijada Los Gázquez and we hope that we don’t seem like broken records over here at Fodenvensel Studios HQ. The students from Goldsmiths College are back in London and a group of five friendly Americans have come and gone. They were organized through the same group that arranged the last gastronomy tour.

We learned quite a lot from one of the students about foraging. A Kurdish Iraqi student named Rebeen shared that two plants that grow near the house are eaten regularly in northern Iraq where he is from. He sent a photo of geranium leaves he found in the area to his mother in Iraq from his phone and she confirmed their edibility. A few days later we were all eating sautéed geranium leaves. This week I spent an hour picking them for a soufflé-like dish that Donna usually makes with spinach.
Rebeen also turned us on to the unique sour flavor of green almonds. Green almonds are picked from the tree in March or April while they are still immature and wear fuzzy green sweaters. Since they have not yet developed a shell they can be eaten in their entirety and are best with a little sea salt. When the almonds mature, they shed their sweaters and reveal the hard brown shell most of us are familiar with. They have a bright, fresh, very green flavor. Rebeen brought a few pounds of green almonds back with him to London to share with Kurdish friends in commemoration of a Kurdish massacre by the Iraqi government in 1988.

We have also collected wild arugula, called “rocket” by the Brits, though it is starting to taper off now. In its place the thistles are beginning to bloom and we have ideas of collecting the young blossoms to harvest the bright purple stamens to make a vegetarian rennet for future cheese making endeavors. Yesterday we made Halloumi cheese from fresh goat milk. It is a cheese that relies on vinegar instead of rennet. It is a “squeaky” cheese with a firm curd.

For the gastronomy weekend a botanist named Maite came to Los Gázquez to take the guests foraging for edible plants on the land. They brought back what they found and used the herbs to season the goat cheese they made the day before. The guests sampled their homemade cheeses, and then the two of us happily took the large amounts of cheese that were left untouched.

It is now Wednesday morning and the guests just left a couple of hours ago. There is a week until the next gastronomy group arrives and until we likely will leave Almería and head north to St. Jean Pied de Port, France.

20130424-102947.jpg Jamón and green almonds.

20130424-103055.jpg TR: Max Beckmann. BL: Cocido (a traditional Spanish peasant stew with chick peas, broth and pork pieces of all sorts) cooking in terra-cotta pots in the asador.

20130424-135339.jpgTR: Wild rocket. BR: Geranium leaves.

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6 thoughts on “Foraging Report

  1. From our experience in Corvallis OR you will find many of the same edible wild plants when you return to Portland. Springtime is the time! You should find almonds in the Willamette Valley too. Creepy things to photograph are abundant all over. Thanks for sharing the mouthwatering delights.

    • Ilana and Jerry,

      Thanks for another comment. It’s really nice to get some feedback and to know what people are thinking about our posts. I’m interested to know more about what edibles are grown in Oregon. I’ve only been out searching for mushrooms and once I found a site called Urban Edibles and found some Asian pears growing by the sidewalk.
      -David

  2. We have heard about “rocket” salad, which as you say is British English. In Germany it is found in every Italian restaurant and also makes for a great pizza topping. But here it is called “rucola” , and Wikipedia says in the US it is called “arugula”. Very popular salad, very similar to dandelion salad it seems to me. Heck, if you’re eating green almonds, almost time for some fried green tomatoes. At least Down South you can find those on some menus, and they’re quite tasty, presuming you slice them and dip in flour first. Enjoy. D & B.

    • D and B,

      I’ve never had fried green tomatoes and I didn’t end up putting and green almonds into any dishes I made, but Idid find some interesting recipes that included green almonds and I almost made some. I remember the apple wine I had with you guys last time I was in Frankfurt. I thought it was pretty good, even though I remember you guys not being huge fans. We shared the sauerkraut we made with our British hosts and I think they enjoyed it. Thank you for your comment. It’s great to hear from you on here. -David

  3. Back in NY from our gastronomy days with you. April-May is foraging time for ramps in the northeast. I made pesto with from them the other day. The garlic-spring onion aroma along with the warm spring weather seemed heavenly. I also found a farmer at the local outdoor market who may sell pasteurized (but not homogenized) goats milk. If so, cheese making will be on the agenda some time soon. I hope this not finds you two well.

    • Amy,
      Great to hear from you. Thanks for commenting. We are pleased to have you checking out the blog. We just left Los Gázquez yesterday morning and are in Madrid.
      What is a ramp? Is it similar to a garlic scape?
      We made halloumi cheese from raw goat milk a few weeks ago and it turned out great. It was very easy, we just heated the milk to 95 degrees centigrade and then added some vinegar. It made for a fairly hard cheese and we thought it was delicious.
      Keep us posted on your cheese making and foraging:)
      -David & Austin
      PS: A postcard will come your way sometime soon!

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