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