Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fairy Rings and Mushrooms

To learn everything there is to know about mushrooms would require books, guides, attendance at workshops, shadowing an expert, joining clubs and forays, careful record keeping, and extensive study.  Knowing trees and other telltale signs, such as  "fairy rings"  and "washes",  is just as important as identifying good mushrooms from their scary, poisonous counterparts.  Once the mysterious mushroom is found the next step is enjoying its wonderful flavor in any one of countless possibilities.  From simple sautéing to making precious oils the mushroom has a maddening effect on mushroom maniacs everywhere.  Forget wine, knowing what to pair a gourmet mushroom with requires a whole other set of specialized knowledge.  Dryads saddle, morels, King Bolete, and oyster mushrooms, to name a few, all have distinct flavors and uses.  For now I will leave it to the mushroom connoisseur to entice and dazzle me with their wonderful creations.
Evan Mallett of the Black Trumpet restaurant in Portsmouth is one such expert. He was trying to come up with a name for his restaurant while on a hike near his home.  Near the summit of Mount Agamenticus, he stumbled on a meadow full of black trumpet mushrooms, and he took a knee and looked skyward in thanks.  A real life epiphany, and there was the name.   And luckily for us, Evan Mallett is the guest chef for the UNH Gourmet dinner December 3rd and 4th.  What better way to start the holiday season then relishing a spectacular culinary feat.
Post by Colleen Schriefer

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