On Friday I was greeted by a new face in the restaurant. This stranger held one small brown paper bag brimming to the top with tiny golden mushrooms. As a smile of recognition and the word chanterelles crossed my lips, the man nodded. Like most things extraordinary in this world you just have to ask how much, pay the price and not even think about haggling. To haggle with this forager might dissuade a return visit and I WANTED MORE. After the transaction had taken place I made a very simple statement "I will buy everything that you bring me." I don't think he believed me, but on Sunday he and a foraging buddy returned to Motor and took me up on the offer.
As Sunday brunch was winding down I was told that I had a visitor. I peeked my head around the corner and I saw the familiar brown paper bags sitting on the bar brimming with goodies. After some quick pleasantries we got down to business. "How much?" I asked and in reply he said, "$ XXX and a Fat Tire." Deal! I quickly grabbed the beer and some cash and completed our transaction. With a hand shake and a nod he was gone. He brought two small bags of chanterelles and one bag of oyster mushrooms.
Greg (sous chef), Josh (kitchen manager at Public House, helps out with brunch), and I stood around sniffing the mushrooms and talking about what was going to happen with them. The menu for Sunday night was already in the works and Motor Supply is closed all day on Monday. We collectively came to the conclusion that the mushrooms would not be in prime shape on Tuesday and that it would be a sin to waste them. Josh, Greg, and I paid Motor back for the mushrooms and the Fat Tire and made plans to cook mushroom-centric dinners for our wives and girlfriends, three of the luckiest women in the city.
Cooking something of such beauty is easy, you just have to follow the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. I started with butter. A lot of it. To the 1/2 pound of melting butter I added 12 fresh sage leaves and 1/4 pound of the chanterelle mushrooms along with a couple of oyster mushrooms that were thrown into the batch. I filled a large pot with water for my pasta. The mushrooms slowly browned over medium heat while the water got to work boiling.
When the water came to a boil I dropped in the pasta and set to seasoning the shrooms with some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. I also used some nice champagne vinegar to help cut the richness of the butter. When the pasta was done I strained it and quickly poured it over the mushrooms so that some of the pasta water would help emulsify the sauce a bit. With a motion of my arm the pasta was tossed in the air a few time and ready for the plate.
And that was only half the mushrooms that came back to our house.
On Monday the KISS principle went back into effect again. Today I would change course slightly and switch pasta for eggs. I medium diced a small potato, half a head of cauliflower, a small yellow onion and placed them in a saute pan with the remaining 1/4 pound of chanterelles and 10 sage leaves with two sticks of unsalted butter (Yes, I LOVE butter). I then placed the pan on the glowing element of my crappy electric stove so that the sizzling would commence. (Oh, for the not-to-far-off day when my wife and I buy a house and trick out the kitchen the way we want to!)
While everything was cooking in the pan I beat six eggs in a mixing bowl with several large spoonfuls of full-fat Greek yogurt. (To cook with yogurt it must be full-fat or it will start to curdle and nobody wants that.) When everything in the pan had browned I poured the egg mixture over the top and placed the pan in a 350 degree preheated oven to finish baking. When the eggs start to slightly rise and just brown you are done. The concoction can now be called a frittata.
As a side note: we enjoyed a delicious bottle of Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc with the pasta and a nice Cru beaujolais with the frittata. I chose these wines because they both have nice acid backbones to help cut the richness of these two dishes. Both dishes were accompanied by salads prepared by my wife, comprised of a baby mache blend, sliced local tomotoes and peaches, dressed with a simple vinaigrette. The frittata didn't really need a sauce, since it was so rich already and had the creaminess from the Greek yogurt. We set out two bottles of Palmetto Pepper Potions (www.pepperpotions.com) for optional heat and went to mushroom town.
Keep your eye out for fresh local mushrooms at Motor. Prime foraging season is right around the corner!