Fabulous Fungi

Mushrooms are magical.  When they’re good, they’re delectable but when they’re bad they can kill you.  The knowledge of how, where, and what to forage is a specialized art known to few but from which all of cuisine benefits.  That’s why the Allegheny Mountain Mushroom stall is quite possibly my favorite at Farmers at the Firehouse.  The variety of what you can get there is exotic and exciting, and usually includes types I’ve never heard of.

The slippery jack has octagonal pores and a speckled top.  The Butter Bolete has a red cap and a yellow underbelly.  As opposed to the Gilled Bolete which, well, has gills; or the White Bolete, which is quite spongy.  Who knew?

Jonathan Cignota, the mushroom man behind the operation.  He rattles off the names of his wares so quickly that even if you’ve got a pen and you’re scribbling as fast as you can, you’re still liable to leave a couple off the list.  But, let’s face it—as mesmerizing as the miscellany of mycellium may be, my main mission is mastication.

So, I slice them and they’re ready to cook.  The colors and shapes are appealing, even visually.  It excites the tongue just looking at it.  The various textures and colors will combine and dance, music for the mouth with their various notes accentuating their diversity through their similarities.

I get my pan hot and add butter.  As my butter melts, I crack some peppercorns into it: a mix of white and black.  The butter begins to brown, just a tad, just at the edges.

I toss in about three cloves’ worth of thinly sliced, locally-grown hard neck garlic.

Into the pan go the shrooms!  With a bit of a sizzle, that’s a good sign.  The heat should be high and the pan should be moving, don’t leave them unattended!  And, as anyone who has seen Julie & Julia is probably already thinking, don’t crowd the pan!

And in a glorious instant, they cross from being not quite done to being ready to serve.

I draped them alongside sliced Black Krim tomatoes, fresh from my garden.  Aurora says she was surprised by how good they were.  “I thought it was just going to be sauteed mushrooms,” she says, “but they had a nice nutty flavor to them.”

Not all mushrooms were created equally.  Stray from the white button and discover what you’ve been missing.

3 Responses to “Fabulous Fungi”

  1. Fillippelli the (Wannabe) Cook Says:

    Nice to meet you - albeit briefly - on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, our kids were at the end of their tether, as was my wife, exasperated that my “it’ll just be 5 minutes” in the farmer’s market area ended up being around 15-20 (which allowed one kid time to fall and get injured!).

    I, too, picked up some mushrooms, and put some roasted Dorade from Penn Ave. Fish Company on top, accompanied by - irony - some sliced tomatoes from our garden, topped with some smoked salt and a little olive oil. The Dorade was good, but our fish filetting skills are a little on the poor side. Well, at least my wife will try. I did once and butchered the heck out of the poor thing. Thus, some of the fish was a little cool and overcooked by the time we got it plated. Still good, but not as good as it should have been.

    Oysters from Penn Ave Fish Co. were the appetizer. As usual, they were excellent. I haven’t been in Wholey’s in like 2 years. Why bother?

  2. justin Says:

    man, all you need is a photo of you eating this, and you could dedicate the whole affair to me!

  3. Dental Roseville Says:

    Its so delicious! I want to try cooking this dishes one day. Thanks for the info.

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