There is something deep down satisfying about foraging for your food.
From the mighty forests to the ocean floor, imagine a dining table running the coast of British Columbia and the exceptional feast it would yield…
From walking through the woods searching for herbs, earthy mushrooms, and juicy berries to getting on the water and pulling up the catch of the day, the pathway to foraging is an inspiring and rewarding journey.
Foraging edibles from the land and sea is an age-old tradition, steeped in history and lore. Coastal First Nations have been successfully harvesting food for thousands of years, offering celebrations of respect and gratitude for the land and sea which provides for them. The Pacific coast is blessed with an abundance and diversity of wild species. Today, harvesting nature’s edible bounty, bringing the wild into the kitchen and onto the table, is becoming more important as more people consider where their food comes from and how it is prepared.
The chefs at Nimmo Bay Resort have a strong connection to the natural world around them. The wild landscape of the Great Bear Rainforest offers inspiration and a canvas to create nourishing, beautiful food. Using local and fresh ingredients, thoughtfully sourced from the land and sea, meals are unique experiences. Wild edibles provide exciting ingredients and new opportunities, as the colours, textures, flavours, and aromas of the earth and ocean are brought into the kitchen.
L A N D
“Watching the plants and nature change around me is a magical experience. I am constantly aware of the items I want to use and where they stand in their life cycle. Being conscious of whom I share those plants with is also crucial,” says Rachel, Nimmo Bay’s Executive Pastry Chef. Foraging is a relationship of give and take. Harvesting from only healthy plants will ensure they continue to flourish and embracing the attitude of a caretaker will show your respect and stewardship. Foraging captures seasonal flavours, as you harvest edibles at their peak, using them as is or, preserving them for future use.
With a variety of berries, mushrooms, flowers, and herbs, Nimmo Bay’s backyard is a forager’s market. Picking salal berries, red huckleberries or salmonberries with guests and “preparing a simple jelly or jam with them allows them to feel further connected to Nimmo Bay. Then, when they see the jam appear on their dessert plate, it engages them deeper in the experience,” explains Rachel. Golden Chanterelles, with their elegant form, fruity smell and peppery taste, are one of the most loved wild mushrooms on the coast. Spotting a sliver of gold in the forest and then being able to put chanterelles on the plate for dinner is a gratifying experience.
Wild roses offer edible hips, petals, leaves, and shoots and can be used in mignonettes, chutneys, sorbets, syrups, and tea. Spruce tips are the soft, bright green new growth of a Sitka Spruce Tree. With their citrus notes, spruce tip and lemon shrub make a delicious gin and tonic. These are just some of the distinct flavours found within the pantry of the Great Bear Rainforest.
S E A
As true as the tides, the wild seafood found off B.C.’s coast is some of the best in the world. At Nimmo Bay, the seafood is sourced from as close to the lodge as possible. The long-standing relationships with local fisherman ensure fresh-off-the-boat fare. Salmon is from Johnson Straight and the surrounding mainland inlets, whereas shellfish comes from Mackenzie Sound, Kwatsi Bay, and Well’s Pass, all within a stone’s throw from Nimmo Bay.
There is nothing comparable to fresh, wild Pacific salmon. The firm, fluorescent fleshed fish is full of rich flavour. Deliciously prepared in a variety of methods, grilled or smoked are sure to tempt your taste buds. Whole, grilled salmon is one of the easiest ways to cook the fish. Cooked on the bone and in its skin, the meat remains tender and juicy. Alder smoked salmon is a Nimmo Bay tradition in which the fresh fillets are brined and smoked for over a day, sealing and preserving the flavour of this time-tested recipe.
With their noticeable spotted markings, the delicately sweet flavour and plump firm texture of B.C. spot prawns are a real treat. Harvested between Vancouver Island and mainland Canada, spot prawns are a wild species, caught with baited traps dropped deep onto the ocean floor. This a technique that is gentle on the habitat and is sustainably managed. B.C.’s large Dungeness crabs are known for their succulent and tender meat. The harvest is strictly controlled, also ensuring a sustainable fishery. Seafood lovers know that when cracking into a shellfish feast, things are going to get messy! By adding butter, garlic, fresh homemade bread, white wine, and an ocean view, you have the ingredients for a quintessential West Coast meal.
Foraging is looking for food at your feet and connecting people to place. The rainforest and ocean offer us so many natural and beautiful ingredients and because of this variety, we get to create a menu that is unique only to Nimmo Bay. Just as the chefs garnish their plates with wild flower petals, the food at Nimmo Bay garnishes the wilderness experience.
Cheers to feasting at this wild table together and giving thanks for the bounty that Mother Nature provides.
Words: Caitlin Hedley
Photos: Jeremy Koreski