ForageSF: Expanding the Wild Empire

If you have always wanted to pluck that mushroom in the forest or nibble wild herbs in the backyard but have been afraid to try, ForageSF's Wild Kitchen dinners provide a safe, gourmet introduction to locally foraged foods. Founded by Iso Rabins, the creator of the Underground Market, the Wild Kitchen dinners are an "underground supper club" featuring an eight-course meal made from local, seasonal, foraged ingredients. The next series of meals are on Dec. 6, 7, and 8 in San Francisco. And as the rainy season settles in, the next menu focuses on one of the greatest foraged foods: wild mushrooms.

While the December menu features dishes like porcini and chestnut soup, and wild mushroom-stuffed turducken, the entire meal is filled with food foraged from land and sea. From the ocean, the menu highlights popular local ingredients like Dungeness crab and smoked mackerel, along with more exotic flavors like pickled bull kelp. From land, the menu features foraged herbs, lettuces, and nettles alongside heartier fare like wild boar rillettes. Rabins and his team forage many of the foods themselves, but they also source from trusted local purveyors. All of the courses have wine pairings, and vegetarian options are available.

For those who want to forage for themselves, ForageSF offers a full slate of classes, including the Wild Food Walks that Rabins describes as "foraging 101." Wild Mushroom Walks are guided by Kevin Feinstein (aka "Feral Kevin"), a published local mushroom forager, and give an introduction to mushroom ecology and identification. "It is so much better to really show people how to identify mushrooms and not just rely on books," says Rabins. ForageSF also provides advanced food walks and private, custom classes for individuals and groups.

And if you want to cook or keep all the goodies you find in the forest (or anywhere else), ForageSF wants to help with that, too. The organization is working on a new venture, Forage Kitchen. The venue will be a commercial kitchen for artisan food makers, but also available for public rental. So if you need to pickle a hundred pounds of bull kelp or can a few bushels of wild plums, Forage Kitchen may soon be an option. Rabins raised over $150,000 on Kickstarter for the Forage Kitchen project and hopes to raise more funds and open in the next year.

 
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