Wild Caraway Restaurant & Cafe – Wild Foraging Dinner 2018

Wild Caraway Restaurant & Cafe – Wild Foraging Dinner 2018

If you haven’t been to Wild Caraway Restaurant and Café in Advocate Harbour, then you are missing out on a truly unique Nova Scotian culinary experience.

Each year, owners Sarah Griebel and Andrew Aitken host their annual Foraging Dinner, where they gather a variety of foods from nearby producers and forage for wild ingredients to create a locavore’s multi-course dream feast. 2018 marks their 9th year of hosting a truly locally sourced dinner that showcases some bold flavours, offering a unique perspective on the way we experience our regional cuisine.

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This was my third year attending the dinner (read about my experience last year), and I always look forward to visiting Wild Caraway for this amazing event. Advocate Harbour is a stunning spot on the Bay of Fundy, and the trip gives me some time to take in the early-summer scenery and visit some antique shops along the way.  

I’m not the only one – the Foraging Dinner has become an annual tradition for many, who can all expect an exciting evening that also has an intimate, laid-back vibe with great music and plenty of laughs. There’s also an adventurous atmosphere to the evening, and I love challenging my palate with their thoughtful and unexpected creations – be prepared for more unconventional bitter & salty tastes and some unusual textures!

I’ve become friends with Sarah and Andrew, and really admire how dedicated they are to every detail of this dining experience. The dinner is truly a labour of love, and the Wild Caraway team spends months brainstorming ideas and creating a menu before sourcing and foraging for the freshest local ingredients. When I asked Sarah what inspired the event, she explained “we are both interested in the different flavours and textures provided by nature and the challenge that accompanies using them. The foraging dinner gave us an opportunity to experiment and be creative in a way that our regular menu didn't allow at the time.”

While the annual dinner certainly is a big draw for foodies, it also raises environmental consciousness: the menu draws direct connections to local ecosystems and emphasizes how our environment defines our eating.  Sharing their unique menu built on foraged foods reflects their philosophy of supporting local producers and showcasing edibles that grow wild in our province  – literally right in our backyard.  

“We feel biodiversity and palette diversity is something to be embraced”, Sarah says. “We like to ground our dishes in the familiar, using templates such as Ceaser salad, bouillabaisse, and Baked Alaska! Foraging allows us to provide a snapshot of our specific location and time of year. We have learned so much through others’ knowledge, our own research, and constant experimentation. Every year we find something different to use, which is incredibly exciting!”

It never ceases to amaze me with how much I learn about wild edibles, and how versatile and sophisticated they can be. I was especially intrigued by beach peas, oyster plant and chickweed featured in this year’s menu, and with a few months of warm weather ahead, I’m eager to get out into nature and do some foraging of my own.

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Bread & Butter
Sea truffle, red fife and buckwheat sourdough

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Amuse
Smoked mackerel, sea lettuce biscuit
Wood-fired oysters, hollandaise, juniper
Mackerel tartar, sea parsley, elderflower gel
Fried squid, spruce tip salt & vinegar

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 Smoking the oysters in the outdoor oven with juniper branches.

Smoking the oysters in the outdoor oven with juniper branches.

Head Cheese
Halibut cheeks, napes & collars, chive-daisy-dandelion capers, sea rocket, daisy leaf & flower, fiddleheads, fir oil, sauce ravigote

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 SPRUCE TIPS – are just that – the tips of new spruce growth available in May-June. They are tender, bright green and a bit citrusy. Very versatile, they can be brined, pickled or even candied!

SPRUCE TIPS – are just that – the tips of new spruce growth available in May-June. They are tender, bright green and a bit citrusy. Very versatile, they can be brined, pickled or even candied!

Seaside Caesar Salad
Bladder wrack seaweed, garum & roe dressing, poached egg, smoked dulse, oyster leaf

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  OYSTER PLANT  – also known as salsify They have a unique blue-green colour, and young leaves are delicious scattered in salads.

OYSTER PLANT – also known as salsify They have a unique blue-green colour, and young leaves are delicious scattered in salads.

Scrambled Scallops, Eggs & Sausage
Scrambled Scallops, bottarga, smoked soft roe sausage, beach pea, burnt toast bread

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  BEACH PEAS  – once you notice these, you’ll spot them all over the place on Nova Scotia beaches! They are a common coastal wildflower on the east coast that are safe to eat in small quantities. They are a beautiful colour, have curling tendrils that sprout little pea pods.

BEACH PEAS – once you notice these, you’ll spot them all over the place on Nova Scotia beaches! They are a common coastal wildflower on the east coast that are safe to eat in small quantities. They are a beautiful colour, have curling tendrils that sprout little pea pods.

Pasta
Daylily, Dutchman’s gouda & squash, chive, potato & chive flower, nettle & feta, dandelion greens soubise, chickweed

  CHICKWEED  – Some people are familiar with pulling this weed out from gardens. They are leafy and display tiny white flowers. You can safely eat their leaves and flowers (sweet, verdant and juicy) and their stems (earthier).

CHICKWEED – Some people are familiar with pulling this weed out from gardens. They are leafy and display tiny white flowers. You can safely eat their leaves and flowers (sweet, verdant and juicy) and their stems (earthier).

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Hot & Sour
Jonah crab, day lily flowers & buds, cattails, egg wrack & Irish moss, pickled rose petals, beach pea flowers

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Cleanser
Roasted dandelion root & maple granita

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Umbellifers & Conifer
Sea parsley cake, angelica ice cream, spruce tip caramel, woodruff milk gel

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Petit Fours
Chocolate covered rose caramel, sweet fern yo-yo biscuit

  SWEET FERN  -  a common plant growing along ditches and roadsides. They are very aromatic, and the leaves can be prepared as a tea, or dried and powdered as a spice.

SWEET FERN -  a common plant growing along ditches and roadsides. They are very aromatic, and the leaves can be prepared as a tea, or dried and powdered as a spice.

 

 

Copy editing by Emily Hoegg.

 

 

Wild Feast Nova Scotia: Wild Feast & Foraging Hike

Wild Feast Nova Scotia: Wild Feast & Foraging Hike