Wild Food Foraging Adventures in Asheville
By Jodi Helmer
Explore the local “find dining” scene
Ask local chefs and mixologists about the inspiration for their signature dishes and drinks, and they will tell stories about searching for patches of chickweed, chanterelles, sassafras, violets and dandelions in the forests and parks.
The bounty of wild edibles has led chefs out of the kitchen and into nature to forage for fresh, local ingredients. You can taste their passion and dedication -- or get your hands dirty foraging for the ingredients for your supper -- during a foraging adventure in Asheville.
Check in and check out the foraging scene: Aloft Asheville, Sourwood Inn, and 1899 Wright Inn & Carriage House know about local flavor. The hotels offer tasteful accommodations and special foraging packages that include guided hikes to harvest wild edibles and a chance to have your forest finds turned into delicious appetizers by local chefs.
Search for your supper: Spend the morning on a foraging tour offered through No Taste Like Home and learn why Asheville is hailed as, “The Garden of Eden for Wild Edibles.”
During tours, which run from April through October, you’ll go on a guided foraging adventure with local Mushroom Man, Alan Muskat, trekking into forests and parks to learn about the bounty of wild foods growing around Asheville and sampling flavorful edibles like fresh burdock root and sassafras tea.
You can collect your own cache of wild edibles for an outdoor picnic or bring them to dinner at Zambra, The Market Place or Vue 1913 at The Omni Grove Park Inn where the chef will feature them in a free forage-to-table appetizer.
Shop for samples: For a taste of local flavor, stop by the Asheville Wild Foods Market where wild edibles and prepared foods like pesto, salad dressing and teas -- all made from foraged ingredients -- are offered for sale and sampling. The market is part of the River Arts District Farmers Market, which is held on Wednesday evenings from April and October.
Got foraging fever? Villagers, a modern incarnation of an old-fashioned general store, sells all of the supplies you need, including field guides for foragers, digging forks to harvest wild edibles and apothecary jars to preserve your finds.
From forage to feast: Local chefs are passionate about foraging and often integrate wild edibles into their menus. The menu at The Market Place features pickles and pesto made from local ramps, seasonings made from the dried berries plucked off of dogwood trees and a Moroccan spice called zaatar that is made from wild sumac and added to the salmon.
You can raise your glass to the bounty of wild edibles in the Blue Ridge Mountains at Sovereign Remedies. The cocktail bar uses foraged ingredients to create craft cocktails like a root daiquiri made with sarsaparilla, burdock root and dandelion.
You don’t have to go far to find foraged flavors in Asheville.