Barclay Dodge has worked in fine-dining kitchens all over the world, but there’s just something special about Colorado. Maybe it’s the wild, untamed forests that Dodge loves to explore on his days off from Bosq, the Aspen restaurant he owns with his wife, Molly.
Bosq’s menu is full of edible treasures that Dodge brings back from his foraging excursions, such as blue spruce pine tips, watercress, serviceberry branches, wild huckleberry, chanterelle mushrooms and wild roses.
“We really wanted a restaurant that came from our surroundings,” said Dodge, 51. “Bosq comes from the word ‘bosque,’ which means ‘the forest’ in Spanish. We’re inspired by our surroundings, so that’s the drive of the place.”
Dodge typically spends one to two days foraging in the forests around Aspen each week during the warmer months. But even as the weather gets colder and the leaves start to turn, Colorado continues to produce a bounty of edible plants and fungi.
We chatted with Dodge and other foraging experts to learn which wild foods are in season during the fall. As always, make sure you follow the rules about foraging wherever you’re planning to hike, don’t trespass, and never eat something unless you’re totally confident you know what it is.
You can find watercress in Colorado all the way through September. Look for this spicy green plant near creeks, rivers and springs, then use it as part of a salad mix. It’s a bit like arugula, but has a slightly spicier, more peppery flavor, according to Dodge.
“The number one thing we like to forage is watercress; freaking love it,” he said. “It’s so good, it’s so plentiful, it grows back quickly.”
You might think juniper berries are just for gin, but these little dandies can do so much more. You’ll find juniper growing in a variety of settings in Colorado, so keep your eyes peeled wherever you go. Dodge said he often finds them in clearings or at the edges of the forest.
“When the woods open up into a small glade, that’s the best place to find them,” he said. “But I’ve also found a bunch of junipers in deep, dark woods. This is one of those bushes you can kinda find everywhere.”
He uses juniper berries in all sorts of recipes at Bosq, such as part of a salt cure for meats like rabbit and venison, in various broths and stocks, and as a garnish after he lacto-ferments them. (Lacto-fermentation is a fun food preservation process involving salt, water and natural bacteria; it’s responsible for foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.)
In your home kitchen, you can use juniper berries for everything from jams and cakes to pork chops.
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Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle