Foraging and Fine Dining

Gastronomic delights are lurking in your back yard.

Nothing in the house for dinner? Just step outside, scoop some little critters off the ground and pluck a few berries from the garden, and you have the makings for a tasty snack of "black currant and roasted ant tarts." That's just one of the delicacies on the menu at tonight's Off the Eaten Path reception, which also features "prairie dandelion sauced in pine nut butter" and "North American cricket served with pear cactus jelly." While the sponsors, the Explorers Club and Redwood Creek Wines, assure us that none of the ingredients in these dishes will have been pilfered from local open space, they easily could have been. And Explorers Club president Richard Wiese will prove it when he points out potential culinary curiosities, including both flora and fauna, on a foraging hike across the city's back yard, through Commons Park along the South Platte River, that starts at 6:30 p.m.

By 7, when the food-and-wine reception begins at the Onyx Room of the Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th Street, hikers should have worked up quite an appetite. Winemaker Cal Dennison will offer wine pairings with an adventurous spirit, and Explorers Exotics chair Gene Rurka will be on hand to satisfy both curiosity and hunger. "What we consider to be exotic foods today were the staple of past explorers," says Rurka. "In fact, insects and other delicacies remain an important nutritional food source in many parts of the world." Including downtown Denver this evening.

"The ant tart is really nice," promises Angela Tucker, who's promoting the Eaten Path on stops across the country. "It's sweet, it's sort of tart. The ant has a little bit of exoskeleton, so it's a little crunchy." And it goes so well with the Redwood Creek 2004 Syrah! The hike and feed are free, but reservations are required, so go (quickly!) to www.redwoodcreek.com.

 
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