March 23rd, 2007

It pays to walk around your neighborhood sometimes, especially when restaurants like these are your neighbors. I was walking home after running an errand when I passed by two men on the sidewalk. One was leaning against his parked truck and the other was inspecting some sort of produce in a crate. They were standing in front of a restaurant. A buyer or a chef sourcing some veg, I thought, as I walked by.

Hold on, were those mushrooms? (Insert screeching sound and jerky whiplash head turn here.) I immediately turned around and walked over. I was right. These were very dirty chanterelles! And dirt typically means fresh, wild mushrooms.

“Hi! Are those wild chanterelles you’re selling?”
“Yes they are. Are you interested?”
“Oh, I don’t usually sell to individuals. How much do you want?”
“Um… half a pound? Actually, maybe a pound. How much do you want for them?”

Folks, I got half a pound of gorgeous, fresh, wild chanterelles for five US dollars. Five dollars! Meanwhile, the chef strikes up a conversation with me, giving me all sorts of tips on how to cook them. He tells me they sell chanterelles at most shops for $49 a pound! This sounds about right—I remember similar prices at local shops for chanterelles that aren’t nearly this fresh.

The mushroom guy says he likes to cook chanterelles with some fresh crab and eat it on a hot roll (mmmm!). The chef says he stuffs a pork loin or a chicken breast with sauteed chanterelles and shallots. For the chicken breast, he adds a bit of fresh mozarella. He also suggests slicing a round of brie lengthwise, sandwiching some chanterelle slices in between, and baking it in the oven (heavenly!).

I thank them both profusely, and ask the mushroom guy when he generally comes around. They both laugh and explain that he’s really not supposed to sell to people on the street, but how European of me to ask.

Stay tuned to find out what I did with the chanterelles!

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