Post image for Eating wild in Vipava Valley – 2nd part

Eating wild in Vipava Valley – 2nd part

by Gogo on October 18, 2012

in Tasty adventures

After about an hour of foraging for wild edible plants, where we foraged nettle, hop and much more, we were only 300 m from Restaurant Majerija. Check out what we ate at the end of Dario Cortese’s workshop…

potato salad with nettle hop and red wine
…like this salad, delicious in its simplicity: steamed potatoes with nettle, hop and red wine.

Dario explains while we have a deserved break and picnic:
Poisonous plants doesn’t necessarily taste bad. So be careful, especially with plants that look like parsley or carrot sprouts. If you are not sure what they are it is better to avoid them.

We all sit on the grass and taste pieces of a delicious bacon that he brought.
– Try to wrap the bacon in kiselica…

sour weed - obična kiselica - Rumex Acetosella
Sour weed (hr. kislica) has an acidic taste similar to pickled cucumbers.

Dario continues:
Bacon and fat from pigs raised by a farmer you trust, those ones that ate old-fashioned food like pumpkins, green leaves and beets, these animal fats, together with cold pressed oils, are the sources of one of the healthiest fat you can find on this planet. And good fats are important because most active ingredients of food are soluble in fats, much less in water.,

Sour weed (kiselica) wrapped in bacon
So, wrap a good bacon in kiselica and get a tasty and healthy finger (even functional?) food that can be served on an elegant reception or just enjoyed during a hiking trip.

Legend says Achilles used the following plant to treat battle wounds.

Yarrow - Stolisnik - Achillea millefolium
Yarrow (hr. stolisnik, hajdučka trava) is usually used as medicinal plant with a powerful astringent effect. Thus, it is used topically for wounds, cuts and abrasions. But, it is also a great vegetable: use it as spice in soup, maneštra and omlettes or add it to fatty foods since it helps digestion.

We also encountered one of the most abundant and widely used medicinal plant in the world.

Broadleaf plantain - Trputac - Plantago Major
It is broadleaf plantain (hr. trputac), the main ingredient in many cough syrups but its young leaves are also edible as a salad green.

A plant that totally blew my mind is Salad burnet (hr. dinjica, mala krvara, lat. Sanguisorba minor). It has an intense aroma of sweet melon and cucumber and, thus, it is great for aromatizing sparkling water or some wine based cocktail. Unfortunately I didn’t took photo of it.

Ground elder - sedmolist - Aegopodium podagraria
Ground elder (hr. sedmolist) has citrus aroma, goes well with hazelnuts and walnuts. Mixed it with nettle and Garlic mustard and stuff a roasted chicken with.

Did you know that all clovers (hr. djetelina) are edible, although they are a bit tougher, so the best thing is to make a pesto. Matej told us he recently visited Noma and there he ate more clover than meat 🙂

For the end, we were lucky to find one of the most delicious wild edible plant, an indigenous plant suitable for use in Asian inspired dishes.

Meadow Salsify -livadska kozja brada - Tragopogon pratensis
It is meadow salsify (hr. livadska kozja brada) whose leaves, shortly steamed, are great as a salad green while its young sprouts can be eaten raw.

Of course, I tried them immediately and trust me, they are delicious. The sprouts taste bamboo shots which is not surprising since the plant looks like a small bamboo.

It is time to go back to Majerija…
Going back to Majerija

With a little help of my friend…
A Little Help of My Friend

Chopping of all these beautiful plants we foraged starts in Majerija’s kitchen…
chopping plants in Majerija's kitchen

orechiette with hop
First course: orechiette with hop briefly sauteed with bacon and mustard seed oil.

Dario continues and prepares omlette with nettle and hop…
Dario prepares nettle and hop Scrambled eggs

…and gives it the final touch with dead nettle flowers. Beautiful!
Scrambled eggs nettle hop
Second course: scrambled eggs with nettle, hop and dead nettle flowers.

The eggs are accompanied by dead simple salad made with steamed potatoes, raw hop and raw nettle rubbed between the palms. The salad was spiced up with garlic mustard that brought that nice onion/garlic flavor, olive oil, salt, pepper and – surprise – not vinegar, because it would kill the subtle taste of these plants. Instead, Dario poured in plenty of red wine! This dish was stunning in its simplicity and purity of flavors, the flavors I have never tried before.

potato salad with nettle hop and red wine
Salad with steamed potatoes, nettle and hop

I can’t wait to join a similar workshop somewhere in my native Istria where, of course, many of the plants I mentioned here doesn’t grow. Please let me know if you hear about such workshop.

At the end of the day, these three outstanding dishes we ate in Majerija proved me that knowing how to forage the wild edible plants is not useful only for those interested in wilderness survival techniques or in their beneficial health effects. Even if you are a pure hedonist, I am sure these miraculous plants will open you a door to a parallel gastronomic universe, a territory unfairly abandoned by our parents but very well known to our grandparents.

Thank you Dario! Thank you Matej!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Clem October 19, 2012 at 14:41

Wow the dishes sound and look amazing! I’d love to try all of those herbs, especially the salad burnet!

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