Yampatika hosts eighth annual Wild Edible Feast on Friday
Steamboat Springs — Yampatika found the perfect fit when seeking a fundraiser that would be both unique and environmentally oriented.
The eighth annual Wild Edible Feast is Friday at Catamount Ranch and Club, and much like many fundraisers or special events in Routt County, the Yampatika fundraiser includes a gourmet meal.
The difference is that many ingredients to be used for Friday’s six-course meal were picked or caught in Routt County’s forests and rivers.
On Wednesday, Yampatika senior naturalist Karen Vail, who helped create the Wild Edible Feast, hiked up Emerald Mountain with an enthusiastic group of volunteers to gather several types of plants for Friday’s meal.
Vail drops off all the collected plants at Catamount so the executive chef can use what is found to prepare the meal.
“That’s the fun thing about the menus, because it’s somewhat impromptu because the chef will see what we collect and make a menu from that,” said Jenn Wright, executive director of Yampatika.
Vail and several volunteers spent Wednesday morning gathering fern-leaf lovage, a plant similar to parsley but stronger, and stinging nettle, which must be cooked before it’s safe to eat.
“Get it young before it flowers,” Vail cautioned about stinging nettle. “It has more nutrients than spinach.”
Volunteer Danna McDon-ough gathered plants Wednes-day, but she also plans to attend Friday’s feast with her husband, Howard. Initially, Howard would not attend the Yampatika fundraiser because “he didn’t want to eat weeds for dinner,” Danna said. “This is the guy, when someone called for me, would say, ‘She’s out eating weeds with Karen.'”
Now, Danna said, Howard won’t miss a Wild Edible Feast.
“Karen knows which weeds to eat, and more importantly, what not to eat,” Danna said.
Last year’s appetizer was fern-leaf lovage aioli, Yampa root puree and quail scotch egg-wild boar sausage.
The fish course was baby brook trout-quinoa, cattail shoots, tomato, black pepper panna cotta and glacier lily pods.
The dessert was anise ricotta cake with local honey poach and rhubarb and beebalm coulis.
This year’s menu is unknown, but Vail revealed that it would include duck sausage.
Doors open at 6 p.m. Friday, and dinner is served shortly after 6:30 p.m. A silent auction with such items as gift baskets, a season ski pass, a Columbine Cabins stay and private hikes with Vail also will help Yampatika raise funds.
Yampatika’s mission “is to provide the public with educational and interpretive services for the better understanding of the natural and cultural resources of Northwest Colorado,” so Friday’s fundraiser also will be educational.
“We do an introduction and how we collected the plants,” Vail said. “We serve each course and discuss what they are eating. You don’t just go out and collect plants thinking they will be edible. A lot of times, plants are edible during certain parts of the year and not others, or certain parts of plants are edible and others are poisonous. There is an ethics to collecting. You have to be careful.”
The Wild Edible Feast was nearly sold out as of Wednesday, but people are still encouraged to call because Yampatika makes a wait list to fill the spots of those who cancel at the last minute.
– To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Work to form a new strategic plan for the Steamboat Springs School District will start next week with the first sessions of a listening tour aimed at getting broad community feedback.