Taste of Oak Harbor
July 3, 2008 · Updated 4:04 PM
Writers use terms like oakiness, grassiness and tannins to describe a wines aroma and flavor. Usually, old casks the wine aged in transferred tastes to the liquid.
Friday afternoon, I tasted oakiness, grassiness and tannins but I didnt taste any wine. The flavors and aromas came directly from the oak itself.
At a workshop on Garry oaks held at Cornet Bay, Melissa Duffy provided a bowl of Garry oak gruel.
Duffy, a member of Washington Native Plant Society and an ardent oakophile, prepared the dish from Garry oak acorns shed frozen.
Native Americans relied on acorns as a food for feasts and during times of famine.
Duffy said the acorns were better hot but even at room temperature, I enjoyed the nutmeats.
The hash of pieces gleamed like moist brown sugar. Its texture resembled rough peanut butter. I scooped up a bit of oak and rolled it around in my mouth. I felt no sugar crystals or dry nuts.
Instead, the acorns melted across my tongue. The initial taste was of fresh-cut lawn moist and grassy. A flash of sweetness followed: just a hit of dilute sugar water. Tannins brought a dry finish.
Deep-frying or a grating of Parmesan could have enhanced acorns.
But added cooking technique or ingredient would have masked the subtle taste of the Pacific Northwest.