Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mushroom Hunting I

So we went out mushroom hunting. In one sense it was a complete fool's errand, but in another at least it got us out of the house. Armed with our trusty guidebook we went up into the Cascades to see if the Autumn Chanterelles had started peeking their little heads up.

In short: nope.

In long: It's been a very hot and dry summer, which is bad news for mushrooms. Nevertheless we went up to the Mason Lake trail off of I-90, out in the Cascade foothills. A nice hike, 3 miles up to a lake. We didn't make it nearly that far, as we were busy peeking in and around logs and trees. We did see some mushrooms. Just not ones we were comfortable eating. We found some of these guys, but being amateurs we weren't confident enough on the ID to call them Chanterelles. They were very small, just had come up, and only one was above the 1" mark. The gills are too bladelike for Chanterelle and so we decided to err on the side of caution. “There are old mushroom pickers, and there are bold mushroom pickers, but there are no old, bold mushroom pickers”. We'll try again after it rains a bit more.

Fortunately, the coast apparently has some coming up and we picked up a 1/4lb from Foraged and Found. At $18 a pound though, I'm hoping to start finding my own! There's 3-4 months left in the season so I've not lost hope yet. But as much of a failure as the hike had been (not really, it was a nice hike and there were some trailing blackberries to munch) the make-up dinner for the trip was a delicious.

Warm Chanterelle Salad with Pancetta and Poached Egg

Chopped some of the homemade pancetta into lardons, sauteed till crispy. Poured off the rendered grease into a cup, then put a tablespoon or so back into the pan and sauteed the chanterelles with some garlic, salt, pepper. While this was going on we poached some eggs. The lettuce was half romaine half red leaf. Sliced up a pear and arranged on the lettuce. Whisked up a quick bacon vinaigrette with some of the pancetta fat, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and dijon mustard. Plated and ate. Awesome!


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