How to find dinner in the woods

Sun streaming through the trees near Stratford OntarioThis past weekend I went on a nostalgic romp through the woods…looking for dinner. As the leaves turn colour and the weather notches lower on the thermometer, I hear the call of my European roots to head into nature in search of some edible treasures. So I grabbed the boy, a basket and some rubber boots and made for the wilds of Southern Ontario.

Walking through the trees near Stratford OntarioThe foraging caravan - foraging for mushrooms near Stratford OntarioJust so we are clear, I had no idea where I was going or what I was looking for. And I had a hard time quieting the boy’s concern that my lack of knowledge might kill us. To calm both our fears I decided to call for reinforcements. Step in Peter Blush, master forager from Stratford and founder of Puck’s Plenty, a foraging tour company. Peter is a renaissance man of sorts. A former news correspondent for the Viet Nam war who moved to Quebec to run a B&B, then turned to a new interest in foraging while becoming a writer with a novel short listed for the Robertson Davies Prize. In short, the most perfect and knowledgeable guide I could find.

Speaking with Peter Blush - Guide of the foraging tourPeter, along with his dogs Liam and Faolan, leads foraging events every weekend pretty much year round. Although there is a cost involved, he never lacks participants and most events sell out quickly. On this sunny morning, he led a group of ten, most of whom turned out to be European, in search of mushrooms, wild leaks, and wild ginger.

A stream in the woods while on a foraging adventure in Southwestern OntarioGiant Puffball MushroomWild leaks found while foraging in Southwestern OntarioWild ginger plant near Stratford OntarioOn the path with a dogKeeping my eyes peeled for goodies spread out by mother nature under our feet, I breathed the fresh crisp air. As the wind played through the woods rustling the leaves and making the trees creak, I stomped bravely through mud and streams mindful of the path set by our guides.

Dogs in the trailMushroom hunting in a forest near Stratford OntarioDog by the streamWyldwood Conservation areaOur patience and efforts paid off. We returned home with a bounty of puffballs, blewit mushrooms, gem studded mushrooms and wild leaks. No words can describe the taste of a dinner so hard won!

Wild mushrooms and leak bulbs

A Stroll Through Stratford Ontario

Ivy covered patioSummer is slowly sliding out of sight. The weather is cooling with every new day and prompts me to make good use of every scrap of sunshine that makes an appearance. So when the weekend arrived, the boy and I made plans for a little escape to a town named after the birthplace of the bard, Stratford. The town itself bares little resemblance to its counterpart in the England (although I have to say that at times the amount of tourists can be proportionate), you can still discover a European flare in its nooks and crannies.

Although the weather for our morning jaunt to Stratford, Ontario wasn’t promising, we made the forty minute drive outside of London. As we strolled the streets bundled in fall layers, the sun finally made an appearance and the afternoon was a truly relaxing escape.

Callan Books and GalleryAnitques in Time store    Queen Jubilee FountainStone bench by stone wallBalconies in the sunQueen Jubilee fountain lion headI made sure to make a beeline for the river to get a peak at the swans before they are officially lead to their quarters for the winter. Though fowl seemed to abound along the banks of the Avon river, I wasn’t able to catch a good sighting of the swans. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to make a date for next year’s Swan Parade.

Ducks by the river