Big-city chefs are now looking beyond their farmers’ markets--to nearby forests and pastures--for ingredients. But Asheville, North Carolina, is way ahead of the curve, with a surprisingly robust foraging scene. A weekend here includes picking blueberries, hunting for mushrooms and pulling ramps--then eating the fruits of your labor.
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Dr. George Washington Carver Park
A five-minute drive from downtown Asheville, this edible park is ripe with fig and elderberry trees, grapevines, berry bushes and persimmons. There are also herbs, lettuce, tomatoes and chestnuts--all for the taking.
Picnic: Pack a pimento cheese sandwich from Loretta’s for lunch in the park, with handpicked blueberries and strawberries for dessert.
30 George Washington Carver Ave.; or bountifulcitiesproject.org
No Taste Like Home
This forage-and-dine series is spearheaded by mushroom fanatic Alan Muskat, but also involves a who’s-who of Asheville’s locavore scene. Dinners, held one Saturday a month at a private mansion surrounded by thousands of acres of wooded land, include a foraging expedition followed by a five-course meal with live music and dancing.
Book: A daylong foraging expedition with the Maitake man himself. alanmuskat.com
Early Girl Eatery
Take a break from your foraging efforts to enjoy the communal ambiance at this husband-and-wife-owned spot, where items like vegan tofu scramble share the menu with pitch-perfect shrimp and grits. And as befits its local ethos, many of the ingredients are culled from nearby farmers and produce-hunting expeditions.
Order: The latke-like spinach potato cake dish topped with tomato gravy is a recurring special; don’t miss it if it’s available.
8 Wall St.; 828-259-9292 or earlygirleatery.com
The Black Walnut
For 29 years, Peter and Lori White ran a bakery in Martha’s Vineyard, and that experience has trickled down: Their inn has the best breakfast in town--not to mention eight gorgeously appointed (and doily-free) rooms.
Book: The Camelia room in the newly renovated carriage house has a working fireplace.
288 Montford Ave.; 800-381-3878 or blackwalnut.com