"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Travelogue: North Conway and The White Mountains

Sometimes it's good to get the hell out of Dallas.

Don and I took advantage of Parent's Night at O'Malley's camp to book a room in North Conway and plan a little two-day getaway for ourselves.

Much could be said about the two excellent restaurants we ate at--we had great sliders, brown ale, and sweet potato fries at the Yankee Smokehouse in Ossipee. Impressive management here--the place is spotless, the food is muscular, and the clientele will make sure you don't get mugged.

Horsefeathers, in North Conway, was likewise a welcome respite, with a fantastic open-faced reuben, and a brownie worth every cent of its $8.55 price tag.

But what I really want to talk about is our attempt on Mt. Kearsarge North.

Readers, I have a confession to make.

In my secret heart of hearts, I'm not a famous chef, I'm not a famous writer, I'm not even walking the red carpet to collect my Oscar.

I'm Euell Gibbons.

It started early in my life, when I read stories like "Witch of Blackbird Pond" and "My Side of the Mountain"--about characters who knew how to heal and even survive with herbs,roots,and food culled from the wild. Someday I'll tell you about how I made parsley tea for a horrified co-worker (to ease her menstrual cramps. She didn't drink it.)

I have always nurtured a fantasy that should worse come to worst, I'd be able to be a valuable community member because of my amazing capacity to harvest food from the wild. And to that end, I've always had a nagging feeling that I really needed to get my act together and figure out what was really edible out there.

Why do I digress?

Because when we ditched our attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Kearsarge, I consoled myself with my happiest find of the day:

Perfectly ripe lowbush blueberries. Tons of them. (well, not tons. A handful.)

I was so happy because we had been climbing for (literally) hours. Climbing and climbing, just like going up stairs, except the stairs were roots and rocks slick with brown moss and water from the previous nights thunderstorm. Questions that were running through my mind after 1.75 hours were:

Why (oh why), with a closet full of performance clothing, did I chose to wear a cotton t-shirt and denim shorts?

Why on earth did we think that one bottle of Poland Springs would be enough for both of us on a 6.2 mile hike?

So when a gaggle of college girls met us (going down) and told us that they had been coming down for half and hour, and that we were slightly more than half way to the summit (we later determined that we were pretty close (like half an hour) to the top)--these girls who eyed us dubiously as we were panting and dripping sweat--we took a time out and reviewed our options.

I guess one thing about being middle-aged is that you don't really need to prove things to yourself so much. Don and I easily agreed that it was a brutally humid day, the visibility sucked

and we wanted to have the strength to actually get back to the car without dying of dehydration. And at hand, while we were deciding to not cowboy our way up to the top, were the lovely blueberries--a consolation prize--for me, anyway.

And on the way down, I was ever so much more cheerful, even though it took a lifetime. So cheerful, that I noticed every single mushroom on the path, and also some promising looking fruit that I think comes from the shad tree:

It tasted like fruit leather.

At which point I said to Don, "I bet you'd like me to stop taking pictures of mushrooms, wouldn't you?"

Yes, he said, because it was starting to thunder and we seemed to be endlessly going down the mountain.

Were there ever two people more happy to see a car? No. Well, maybe--perhaps people who were crazy enough to try the same trip in the snow.

But I'd like to think that with a camp stove, if we had gotten stuck, I could have cooked us up some mean mushroom omelettes.


Anonymous said...

Uhm, did you have a mushroom ID guide with you?

I once found a large chicken of the woods growing on a red oak in Boston. At the time I was enrolled in a short mycology course and was fairly certain the 'shroom was safely edible. R. was not convinced when I brought it home but the amazing smell of it cooking in EVVO and butter with salt and pepper won him over.

Liz C said...

OMG! I loved My Side of the Mountain! As child I was ready to run away and live in a hollowed-out log. Or a boxcar.
Thanks for the memories -- I had completely forgotten about that book!