Since we could certainly all use a bit more fun in our lives, it was recommended to us that each session in the Klamath Mountains Natural History winter webinar series feature its own pairing — food and/or bev.
Brilliant. And why not.
So what pairs well with endemic salamanders, limestone caverns, or the last glacier in the Klamath Mountains?
I don’t know either, and that’s why I asked our presenters for their expert recommendations.
Part 1: Intro to the Klamath Mountains + The Last Glacier
I present to you the Glaciertini: a fine drink to accompany the first session in this 10-part series where Justin Garwood tells the story of the Klamath Mountains’ Last “tini” Glacier. It also happens to be the signature cocktail of his research team. Per his and colleague Mike van Hattem’s instructions:
- When setting out on your expedition, allow olives (3 per serving) to slosh marinate in vermouth over a 10 mile hike.
- Chill vodka, olives, and cup (titanium preferred) in a 34 degree glacier melt stream for 4 hours.
- Combine and sip responsibly on a chunk of granite while taking in a hard earned, grand alpine view.
Grizzly Lake (pictured above) in the Trinity Alps is an ideal location to experience a Glaciertini.
Part 2: Fire in the Klamath Mountains
To accompany “Part 2: Fire in the Klamath Mountains” we have a spicy twist on a traditional beverage made with the berries of a plant who’s entire ecology is sculpted by fire: manzanita. Manzanitas are also the most common shrub in California with 10 taxa growing in the Klamath Mountains.
Please enjoy a Sparkling Manzanita & Wild Ginger Cider as you learn about Fire Ecology with Jeff kane.
There is some collecting of wild edible plants here, so let’s head outside!
Manzanita berry cider is a traditional beverage of indigenous people throughout the west, though there is debate on the best ripeness level of berries to use. Some suggest green, others red, still others dried and brown, but the most popular seems to be green with a blush of red.
You will need about ¼ cup of berries (ripeness of your choosing) per 1 cup of water. Any species of Arctostaphylos* that grows in abundance will do. I used Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, AKA kinnikinnick or bearberry. Boil water, pour over your berries, and steep for 15 minutes. Gently smash berries and allow to infuse overnight. The next day pour through a fine mesh strainer and stick in your fridge. Sediment will settle to the bottom. Decant off Manzanita Cider, which has a refreshing lemony apple flavor. Enjoy as is, sweeten with a bit of honey, or spiff it up…
If you haven’t tried it, wild ginger (Asarum sp.) really does taste like especially potent ginger. A little goes a long way! Wild ginger grows along the forest floor with long white rhizomes hiding in the duff.
To harvest a piece in the least disruptive way possible, find the growing tip of a rhizome in the duff and harvest just a few inches (as opposed to harvesting cutting off a chunk “mid-rhizome” along with the few leaves it will have attached. If you see wild ginger flowers, lucky you! Be sure to leave them undisturbed.
Back at home, boil a cup of water and pour over your wild ginger. Allow to steep for 15 minutes.
Find a pretty glass, pour in 1/3 manzanita cider, 1/3 wild ginger tea, and 1/3 bubbly water. For an EXTRA FANCY experience add a squeeze of lemon. I know… WHOA!
*Need help identifying the species of you have at hand? Check out Field Guide to Manzanitas.
Part 3: Geology of the Klamath Mountains
When I asked our Geology author and presenter Mark Bailey for his food/bev pairing suggestions he gave it but a moment’s thought… “January 21st, as in the day following January 20th? I think champagne and chocolate are in order!”
I’d like to recommend keeping it Klamath-centric with your chocolate and bubbly drinks:
The nuts of the California bay tree (Umbellularia californica), which grow throughout the Klamath Mountains (but especially in the western portion) taste remarkably like chocolate when roasted and combined with a touch of sweetener. They also possess stimulating qualities much like an espresso bean. Here are some tips from Bay Nature for harvesting and processing your own, though we are a tad past season for bay nut gathering. Paleotechnics offers even more details on harvesting, sorting, processing, storing, and using your own bay nuts.
Luckily southern Humboldt County’s Gretchen Gavlahn has already collected nuts and transformed them into chocolate if you’d like to try a bar! Pick one up here.
I know of one additional chocolatier in the Klamath. Nena Creasy crafts her incredible “Nena’s Chocolates” (without bay nuts) in the heart of the Klamath Mountains: where the Salmon and Klamath Rivers meet at Somes Bar, CA. They are available direct from her shop as well as the Seiad Store, Salmon River Outpost in Somes Bar, Kingfisher Market in Happy Camp, Nature’s Kitchen in Yreka, Directions Clothing and Berryvale in Mount Shasta, River Song Market in Willow Creek, Bayside Garden Supply in Arcata, and Shop n Kart in Ashland.
Part 4: Climate of the Klamath Mountains
Seemed like talking about Climate might be a good excuse for a hot beverage — ya know, so our pairing also reflects a warming trend.
In an effort to support small local businesses, this week we’re featuring folks who craft small-batch spirits, distilled and bottled in Humboldt County, CA. Alchemy Distillery also partners with Humboldt farmers to supply grain for their spirits (which they mill on site), then feeds the animals back on the farm with the spent grain. It’s a beautiful circle.
I asked Alchemy’s Amy Bohner for her recommendation: the Boldt Hot Toddy. Amy is conveniently bottling up their Boldt Bourbon Whiskey in adorable little 50ml glass bottles, which I know many folks will enjoy toting along on a backpacking trip.
To keep your hot toddy superbly local combine:
- Neighborhood Honey (Thanks Tanya and Calder!)
- Lemon from a friend’s south-facing garden (Thanks Marie and Steve!)
- Boldt whiskey* (Thanks Amy!)
- Boiling water in a favorite mug (this one was handbuilt right at my kitchen table, which I’d say earns an A+ for local)
*For an alcohol-free version, include a few slices of fresh ginger instead.
Alchemy Distillery spirits are able to be shipped anywhere through Bitters and Bottles, and the adorable 5o ml Boldt Whiskey bottles are sold at Wildberries Marketplace and the North Coast Co-op in Arcata, CA.