It seems everything, garden-wise, is coming early this year. Asparagus was a full month behind schedule, peaches and nectarines (the best I’ve had) were ready to go in July when we drove through the southern BC interior, and blackberries were already ripe when we arrived in Tofino. We’ve been coming out to the coast for about 20 years (my parents built a house there 10 years ago) and last year was the first time blackberries were ready to pick before we headed home mid-August. This year they were even earlier, and – there were chanterelles to be had.
I went out to forage for them one morning with chef Ian Riddick and a few of the chefs at the Long Beach Lodge, and Anita Stewart, who was in town to celebrate Food Day Canada. I can’t share the exact location – foragers are very protective of their spots – but although it had been dry, we hunted for pale apricot-coloured caps among the decomposing tree stubs on the forest floor and discovered enough, mostly in clusters, never cutting any that were smaller than a quarter, to fill three small baskets.
I brought the boys out a second time, this time to a new spot, and although about a pound went to the chefs at the Wick, we had enough to sauté in butter to eat on toast and pizza and in omelettes and soup. I made this chowder twice – once with corn, once without – but you don’t need to go foraging to make it. If you don’t have access to fresh chanterelles, which have a smooth texture and slightly citrusy flavour, use a big handful or two of whatever mushrooms you happen to have.