Before I hurl myself completely into 2007, let me share one last bit of 2006 magic. I know, I know...I should have shared this little miracle when it happened, but other posts pushed their way past, and this was left in my “archives”. Coming upon it now, I still feel the mixture of joy and disbelief I first felt when I saw them...all cozy and earthy in their basket, propped up in the produce section of Santis Rockwell (a specialty food store that gladly takes my hard earned money). I grabbed the nearest salesperson, “Are th-th-those chanterelles?” She smiled and nodded.
You must understand, I love mushrooms. I buy them every chance I get. I can eat them everyday, in spite of dire warnings from yogis that “things grown in dark places” are not good for the chakras (or whatever it is yogis look after). I remember with longing the markets in Helsinki and Amsterdam…crates of wild mushrooms that looked like they had been only minutes from the forest….a burly purveyor in an old cap, a little dirt still on his hands, helping me pick out that night’s dinner.
Here in my sunny islands, you can get fresh mushrooms. Button is available, along with Asian mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, and enoki. More and more interesting finds are available in our markets. You may also find portabellos, but they will cost you. But wild mushrooms like chanterelles, morels, porcini, and trompettes des morts are only available dried…and not cheap either! Now, the mushrooms readily available in our local markets are absolutely delicious, and I do explore these guys extensively, but I miss those wild mushrooms.
So, you can imagine my delight when I saw these chanterelles. Never mind that they probably went on a long journey to get here and the forest was already just a sweet memory for them. Never mind that they came with a hefty price tag (just under P1500/kilo). They were fresh (not dried) and they were here! I eagerly picked out a small portion and rushed back home to peruse recipes.
I settled on a recipe by David Tanis from Saveur Magazine (November 2005 issue) in a feature called An American Cooks in Paris. I liked it for its simplicity, and as I had no idea when I would ever come across fresh chanterelles again, I wanted a recipe that would showcase the flavor of the mushroom, with no other distractions.
The recipe (actually it is more like a lesson as there are no exact measurements or volumes) is for Wild Mushroom Sauté and includes more than one type of mushroom. It’s an excellent basic recipe for any mushroom and is still one of my favorite ways to prepare them.
Wild Mushroom Sauté
(from Saveur Magazine November 2005 issue, page 72)
- Spread mushrooms out to dry and clean them. Trim of brown spots. Cut off bottoms and split them to remove dirt. If they are really dirty just swish them around in some warm tap water.
- Roughly slice the mushrooms.
- Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan, add one clove of minced garlic, cook for a minute, raise the heat, and throw in the mushrooms (thickest first if using different types).
- Sauté for about 4-5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper then toss in some chopped parsley.
- Get the mushrooms off the fire and turn out onto a plate.
Simple and perfect…especially for my chanterelle “harvest” as this really highlights the mushroom’s flavor without much accoutrement. I was in mushroom heaven! This was one of those meals eaten with eyes closed, in hope that it wouldn’t end. Isn't it amazing how a single ingredient can transport you?
If the chanterelles and I ever cross paths again, I will be looking for recipes on The Flying Apple and Nami-Nami, two blogs that I know to have great ways with chanterelles (as I am usually at the comment box, green with envy at the mushrooms they find and cook).
***I asked the staff of Santis when they will have chanterelles again. They said that supply isn’t regular so they can’t predict. Sigh…I supposed some things are all the more magical because you never know when they will choose to grace your life again…