The Ottawa Valley, and especially Pembroke, is renowned for its fiddlers and step dancers. There's a huge annual Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing Competition held every Labour Day Weekend that attracts musicians and dancers from all over North America to our little city to raise a little hell and have fun while they're at it. People gather at Fiddle Park, and well over 2000 RV's are filled with lovers of a waltz, a jig and a reel. Anything fiddle goes. But what you won't be able to find is a fiddle head. Because that 's a spring thing, and it's here right now.
If ever you want to know what spring tastes like, this is it. It's fresh, it's green with a slightly bitter after taste, and it goes exceptionally well with butter.
While there are hundreds of different kinds of ferns that grow throughout the woods of eastern Ontario, there is only one fiddlehead, and at maturity it looks like this...
They grow to about 2 feet high, they like damp, shady areas, and you often see them as transplants -up against a house foundation -don't eat those ones though, the homeowners might get a little testy if you're caught lurking around the back porch. If they're this size, you're too late...
You need to pluck them when they're just up out of the ground, still tightly furled,
just like the head of a fiddle.
Rinse them really well to get rid of the brown papery covering, in fact, I rinse them and then par boil really quickly -no more than 2 minutes. Discard that water, then toss into a pan, cover with a bit of salted water, bring to a boil for about 3 minutes (same time as you would give asparagus) so that they're still slightly crunchy. Serve hot with butter, salt and pepper to taste - and it's music time for your mouth while your taste buds do the two step! And the very best part?? It's free food - and it can be yours for the picking.