Mushroom hunting season is officially upon us, and last weekend we scored about a metric ton of chanterelles. Whee!
I also found my first-ever cauliflower mushroom. I had never seen one before, but thought it looked like it would be tasty so I picked it and identified it using a book back at the car.
If I look like hell, it's because I was still covered with spider webs and adrenaline sweat from having been nailed by an angry hornet. Tammy spotted the nest first (conveniently located plumb in the middle of the first motherlode patch of the day), but I was too greedy to move from the spot. TANG! right in the forehead, the little fucker came right at me, and I bolted like a clumsy cheetah which actually sucked the bee right into the sleeve of my jacket. The trapped and confused hornet stung me in the armpit, and my shoulder and pec started burning and throbbing. I'm not allergic to bee stings, but I still broke out in a greasy stress-sweat and my heart started racing from all the ado.
But that's all neither here nor there. The important thing is that we scored a shitload of mushrooms in a pleasant 2-hour stroll through a mossy western hemlock forest, and it didn't even rain.
That night I prepared an erratic feast. I made cabernet-braised oxtails; fingerling potatoes sauteed with pancetta, chanterelles and cauliflower mushroom, baby arugula and thyme; and a nice salad of mixed baby greens, toasted hazelnuts, forelle pears and gorgonzola with a fig-balsamic vinaigrette. Yes, it was a strange combination for sure (red wine braise and white wine in the potato-mushroom ragout? Am I CrAzY?), but it tasted pretty good.
Last week I was working in Centralia, Washington, which has a cute little meat market rumored to have elk sausage. I stopped in, but they didn't have any elk yet (boo), so I picked up a coupla German-style fresh sausage and a some rabbits. The bunnies were from Nicky USA (a Portland game and exotic meats purveyor), so I figured it was probably safe.
Last night I prepared the sausages with a hash of baby sweet potatoes, green tomatoes (from the garden) and chanterelles with thyme and a little hit of nutmeg. The sweet potatoes didn't crisp up the way I wanted (they always stick to the pan), but it was still really good. The tartness of the green tomatoes complimented the sweetness of the potatoes, which in turn complimented the earthiness of the mushrooms. And sausage really just compliments everything.
Man, I really need to work on my food photography. Today I joked with Tammy that I should build a little porn studio for my food, like with red velvet curtains and soft lights and all that. The main problem is that by the time I have dinner ready, it's really dark out and since we are doing our part to reduce the CO2 footprint, our lighting is of the compact fluorescent variety. I'll keep working on it.
Tonight I'm going to cook the bunny. I have a vision of a kale and parm-stuffed roulade (sliced into perfect medallions) in a translucent chanterelle broth with some pretty tortellini. I'm not sure if my skills are there yet, but I guess I'll find out.