TORONTO — Tama Matsuoka Wong, forager for chef Daniel Boulud’s New York restos, led an educational walk through the ravines of Toronto’s Evergreen Brickworks, yesterday, teaching guests in attendance about foraging.
Scavenging wild plants as she spoke, Matsuoka Wong said the evening was about connecting the dots.
“Connecting the dots between the landscape here — which is pretty special — and the food, nutrition and how people live.” Matsuoka Wong lectured on the benefits and uses of several plants, including native cattails, Queen Anne’s lace, milkweeds, stinging nettles, wild spearmint, sumac bushes and amaranth.
The forager advised her audience to harvest common plants to stimulate an interest in foraging. “Go in your backyard and start looking around,” said Wong. “Some [plants] out now are purslane and the yellow wood sorrel. These are things that grow around driveways.”
After the educational hike, Brad Long, head chef at Belong Cafe, in the Evergreen Brickworks, created a menu using local, wild Ontario plants. Cocktails flavoured with native absinthe and stinging nettle were served as aperitifs. A tasting menu followed with an amuse bouche of Arctic char and amaranth dumpling, carrot and Queen Anne’s umbels salad, fried chicken with za’atar (wild sumac), and Tamshire pork with wild spearmint. The chocolate mousse dessert was garnished with wild carrot candy, wild blueberries and spruce cream.