Snails for dinner! You heard me.
Foragers Dinner Club, in which snails are introduced as a locally foraged protein, alongside salmon, pheasant, and crab. The gardens don't dissapoint either, with cauliflower tabouli, zuchinni fritters, and many other delights.
A group of friends gather four times a year for the Foragers Dinner Club -- a meal that features ingredients grown, caught, killed, found, foraged, bartered, or which otherwise come to the the table with a story a little more interesting that "I got this at the grocery store." Our first meal was in the spring of 2011. You can find many of the recent meals described on this blog, like this one, or this one, or that one.
The meat of the meals is often where some of the more interesting stories come from. Wild turkey and pheasant, dove and quail, hand raised pigs and goats, and clams dug from the beach have all made their appearance. We're always on the lookout for urban foraging opportunites, though, as part of our pursuit is to find ways to make foraged foods a more regular part of our urban lifestyles. Squid and crab have been caught easily within the Seattle city limits, and backyard rabbits and chickens are featured with some frequency. This foragers dinner we dined on snails.
Adam had gathered garden snails one night out in front of my house, and it hadn't taken long to fill a couple tubs with maybe 50 snails. They went back to his house, where a couple of raised beds with wire tops kept them contained. Adam and Sandra fed and farmed their snails all summer, and by the end of August they were ready for the plate. We were served snails two ways: a classic escargot preparation, heavy on butter, garlic, and wine, and a gratin version with morel mushrooms, which we spooned over fresh bread.
Both of the dishes were delicious. Levi, our youngest forager at the table, was particularly fond of the buttery, salty snail shells.
Snails weren't the only thing on the menu, delicious as they were. Here's a quick look at the August Foragers Dinner Club offerings:
Crab bisque, my contribution from recent crabbing efforts.
Charmaine and Charlie treated us to a pheasant and plum pie. This was spiced with allspice, and felt like a dish served right out of the Canterbury Tales -- absolutely stunning!
Cauliflower tabouli -- John and Justine are unparalleled in their garden skills, and this dish was a triumph of homegrown food.
This was a bowl of fried zuchinni fritters also provided by John and Justine, but it was utterly consumed before I could get my camera free. Also, I had to clean the fry oil off my fingers.
Gabe brought a couple pink salmon filets, smoked to perfection. The grapes in the foreground also came from John and Justine's garden.
Adam and Sandra made an upside down cake for Gabe's birthday. If you know Gabe you can tell that he's grinning ear to ear.
Dessert was accompanied by coffee and nocino, a walnut liqueur John made a couple of years ago.
As ever, this Foragers dinner was both entirely delicious and uniquely memorable. We unlocked the garden snail achievement, which I'm sure we'll reach for again for a future meal. The pleasure of these meals is amplified not only by the effort of preparing them, but also by the joy of sharing them. Any food tastes better in good company, and foraged food is no exception.
Curious about garden snails for your dinner table? Check out this article from Mother Earth News on the subject.