On Sunday, I went on a foraging adventure with Chef Iliana Regan of Elizabeth Restaurant and her friendly crew. The day began with coffee and a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, and warm artisanal bread and donuts at the restaurant. After a brief description of our itinerary, I enthusiastically boarded a school bus along with 36 other foragers for the hour and a half long journey to the woods.
Upon arrival at our destination, we ventured into the woods in search of mushrooms. Our mushroom expert asked us to collect a selection of all the mushrooms we encountered and to bring them back for identification. The foragers were most excited to search for Hen of the Woods mushrooms which are common in the Midwest in the early fall. Hen of the Woods are frequently found at the base of large oak trees. Within the first five minutes, a beautiful Hen of the Woods was discovered by one of the foragers.
A vast array of mushrooms including Hen of the Woods, Chicken of the Woods, and Puffballs were gathered throughout the late morning and early afternoon. Others found young clusters of Ringless Honey mushrooms on oak trees and stumps in the woods.
Although I did not find any Hen of the Woods on my foraging adventure, I discovered a few spongy white mushrooms growing in moss. Upon returning to our gathering area for lunch, the mushrooms were identified by our expert as Shrimp of the Woods. Shrimp of the Woods are a delicious, mild flavored wild mushroom.
All of the foragers enjoyed the day wandering in the woods. At the end of the afternoon, the picnic tables were covered with a vast selection of foraged mushrooms as well as a deer antler and a small animal skull. Our mushroom expert identified each of the mushrooms; she taught us the names of the foraged mushrooms and whether or not they are edible.
At 4 o’clock, we boarded the bus with our bounty and headed back to the city.