Sometimes it feels like it is really hard to find events around the triangle area that is strictly food related without have some sort of alcohol involved. I initially signed up for one of the events from Piedmont Picnic back in November when they had their wild forage pizza and cocktail event. I missed that one because of sheer laziness and the long drive I wasn’t ready for. When I signed up for the spring equinox celebration Wild History event, I was expecting blue skies, sunshine and pleasant breeze. What I got instead was a grey skies, drizzle, and chilling wind. It took a little resolve to actually go and not back out today. I am glad for heated seats and steering wheel that got me out of my very comfy blankets (yes blankets, I was buried under three). The location for this was not too far from home, ever since we moved to Holly Springs it seems everything is a drive and just painful to get to. I do love my new house and the surroundings, but this place is far away from all the “happenings”.
We are fortunate here in the RDU area with greenways and the ability to be close to nature; the city was well planned to let the inhabitants bond with Mother Nature. I wasn’t sure what to expect on such an excursion as today, so I was hesitant when I reached our start point; which was at the Anderson Point Park entry. Finding the group was fairly easy; the picnic baskets were a giveaway. We waited as others trickled in, and once we all were there; the group was rather eclectic. On our walk today we had the following on the list to view and later devour (the food was cooked prior and nothing was picked for consumption from the trails)– Henbit, Red Bud, Dandelion, Chickweed, Violet, and Spring Beauty.
We went over the rules for foraging, the usual respect for the plants and not to take more than needed. Also, most of the areas do not allow picking weeds so always seek permission and know the rules before you go shopping on the trails. As we started through the paved paths, our first halt was to find some mildly minty henbits. Given it is a winter weed and cloudy, it was a little difficult to find these as they were closed up; but we had great hosts with hawk eyes. The leaves of henbits are heart in shaped with purple flowers, easily confused with sometimes purple dead-nettle. The leaves are chewy; stems are square as it is from the mint family. We pinched, sniffed and admired the weed and hopped on to our next stop. There was a lot of history given when we stopped at the next edible, but I actually don’t remember it all. I blame it mostly on the cold that froze my brain and the lack of pen and paper to take notes. We stopped by at some of the most stunning magenta flowers, strangely they are everywhere but I never thought they were edible. Red buds grow on small trees on shrubs; they are gorgeous to take photos of.
We searched for the rest on the list with a lot of plucking, observing, and information loading. I am not sure if I will ever feel confident in picking something off the ground and eating or adding it to my salad. I am in fear of ending up in the hospital room. As we walked the path we were lead to a beautiful area for a small gathering and picnic. I think for the price that this was the information along with the food is worth it. We feasted on spring rolls, which had violets, red buds and other wild flowers in them; this was accompanied by a nutty sauce (similar to peanut sauce but made with pecans). The seeded levain bread was from Boulted Bread, this was paired with striking green pesto made with onion grass, pecans and bunch of other stuff.
Even our dessert had the flowers in them; they were their healthy take on funfetti cupcakes. We topped this off with whipped cream and sugar crystals made from the flower syrups. Our cold freezing hands were thankful for the hot tea, which too was infused with the weeds we covered on our walk. Amanda and Elizabeth are passionate about what they are doing; I am still amazed at what I paid for all that I got today. They are not in this to make money, but purely to share their knowledge and excitement of the bounties nature has to offer. The weather might have been cold, but the warmth of the people we were surrounded by made it worthwhile. I had a hard time walking after finding out all those were edibles made me feel like I was walking all over my or someone else’s food. I know I should write more about the hours that I spent there, but I am a couple of glasses of wine down and ready to call it a night. Another week awaits another excitement, looking forward to seeing what it has in store. Wishing spring brings you all happy new beginnings and wonderful blossoms in your life. Check them out to see for their upcoming events and classes they have to offer.
For more information for Piedmont Picnic Project click here
For more information on eating weeds click here