Hunting & Gathering with Angelo Garro

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With all of us thinking of home and family and of all the things we love and miss, we thought we’d spend some time with Angelo Garro – a Sicilian blacksmith living in a forge in San Francisco with a passion for hunting, foraging, opera, cooking, pickling, curing salamis, making wine and generously tending and feeding his friends and community. A Thanksgiving gift.

The Kitchen Sisters join Angelo along the coast of Northern California as he follows the seasons foraging fennel in the spring, wild turkey hunting in November, olive picking, eels, mushrooms, and when it rains it’s ducks.

Davia reports for duck blind duty.

“Angelo is a center of gravity for people from just about every class and every job,” says his friend Xavier Carbonnet. “The forge is like the Old Country. Like a piece of Italy frozen in time in the middle of San Francisco.”


But first, a few words from Werner Herzog about Angelo and his Omnivore Salt.

Sicilian Poached Eggs

Like most Italians, Angelo doesn’t usually have more than cappuccino and a little crostini (toast) in the morning, but when he does eat breakfast, he might poach his eggs Sicilian style—topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of fragrant oregano.

Serves 2

2 cups of water
Approximately 2 tablespoons red wine or balsamic vinegar
2 eggs
Two slices bread
Salt and fresh cracked pepper
Pinch fresh or dried oregano
Extra virgin olive oil

In a shallow saucepan bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar. Using great care, break your eggs into the boiling water. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the bread. When done, remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and drain off any liquid (the yolk should be soft and the egg white should be solid). Place the eggs over toast and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, a dash of vinegar and season with a pinch of oregano.

Angelo’s Porcini Pasta

Angelo forages for porcini mushrooms but you can also buy porcinis in season at a farmer’s market or good food store. To clean mushrooms, carefully brush and wipe them. Don’t put them in water as they will absorb it like a sponge. When cooking this pasta dish, Angelo makes his own homemade fresh linguine, but dried pasta works as well.

Serves 4

8 Porcini mushrooms (1-2 per person)
Approximately 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
Italian parsley, minced
1 pound of fresh or dried linguini or fettuccini
Regianno Parmesano Cheese

Using a damp cloth or a brush, clean porcini mushrooms. Slice porcini mushrooms vertically into pieces 1/8 -inches thick.

Heat the olive oil over high heat in a cast iron pan. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until golden brown. (Keep the pan hot) Season mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste. Add the clove of sliced garlic and sauté 2 to 3 minutes more. Set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a dash of salt and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and divide pasta among four plates. Add sautéed porcinis to your pasta and sprinkle parsley on top with an additional drizzle of olive oil. Serve with good Parmesan, but not too much.

Angelo Garro’s Wild Fennel Cakes (A Springtime Specialty)

Angelo Garro shares his grandmother Sebastiana’s recipe for wild fennel patties. You won’t find fennel, the beautiful furry green that covers coastal California in your produce section. It’s too fragile and delicate for mass harvesting, but for a few months each year you can forage for it. Angelo calls this “fenneling”. Somehow with Angelo, most all his nouns somehow become verbs. After fenneling, it’s time for mushrooming, then eeling. Come fennel season, Angelo gathers a group of friends and heads to a hillside or roadside or a freeway underpass in to for a fenneling foray. For Angelo’s many friends, the first fennel patties of the season are a beloved rite of spring.
Fennel hearts are the bright green, furry piece that is in the center of the stalk of fennel. When you’re gathering fennel, pick only the young fronds and lay them in a paper bag horizontally—all the tops should be pointing in the same direction. Keep them together in your hands as you wash them gently in a bucket of water.
Angelo almost always plays opera as he cooks, so you might consider cranking up the Puccini as you attempt this dish.

Makes approximately 20 to 30 fennel cakes

1 1/2 pounds of wild fennel fronds
3 eggs
1 cup high-quality hand grated Parmesan cheese such as Reggiano
1 cup coarsely ground breadcrumbs (made from day-old bread ground up in a food processor or blender)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Peanut oil

Make sure to wash fronds very well. Lay the stalks on the cutting board and chop finely.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and parboil the fronds for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste to make sure they are tender. Drain and let the fronds dry in their in own steam—you can stir a little with a wooden spoon to help the cooling process. When the fronds are cold, place in a bowl.

In a large bowl, combine the chopped fennel with the eggs, cheese, breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes. Form into patties. Heat cast iron or non-sticking frying pan with a very little bit of olive oil cut with a very small amount of peanut oil. Fry fennel cakes on both sides until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Drain again on a paper towel. The patties are best served warm to the friends you went fenneling with.

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