Wednesday, October 1, 2008

golden autumn treasure…

Chanterelle Mushrooms are among the world’s most prized mushrooms. They are in season in autumn and winter and since autumn in very much in the air, I am starting to crave these golden beauties once again.

This wonderful trumpet–shaped wild mushroom has a delicate nutty and sometimes fruity flavor and a lovely chewy texture.
The color ranges from golden yellow to orange.
They are called Girolles in France and Italy and in Germany they are called Pfifferling. Chanterelle mushrooms are usually imported from Europe canned, dried or fresh.

I have found them for sale in the US all forms at high-end markets like Whole Foods, Fox and Obel and Treasure Island.
I have also found beautiful fresh specimens at various farmers’ markets in mid autumn and during the winter at Chicago Green City Market when it moves to its indoor location.
They are not easily cultivated, but can be found growing in parts of the Pacific Northwest, upper Michigan and along the East coast of the US.

In Paris they are readily available in autumn and winter in street marchés. Tiny marché Les Halles on rue des Prouvaires (a few steps north of rue St-Honoré, right before you get to rue du Pont Neuf) always seem to have beautiful specimens from Spain (the owner says these are the best) The prices are much less expensive than at the megamart Monoprix and about half what the prices are in the US.

When you are shopping for Chanterelle mushrooms, choose those that are plump and spongy and avoid those with broken or shriveled caps.
Fresh Chanterelles should be nearly dry to the touch with a slightly fruity aroma like fresh apricots.

To clean fresh Chanterelles just brush off any dirt unless they are very dirty. If washing is required wash them right before you cook them so you are not storing wet mushrooms.

These mushrooms toughen when they are overcooked and cook very quickly.
So when adding them to a recipe, add them at the end of the cooking time.

My favorite simple ways of enjoying these golden treasure is to gently and quickly sautée them in a good olive oil and serve them alone or over a delicate pasta like the graceful capelli d'angelo (angel hair) or the sensuous tagliatelle. After plating the pasta and Chanterelles, I garnish with a scant sprinkling of finely shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano and fines herbes (rough chopped chives, chervil, parsley, and tarragon) for just a touch of complex flavors on the side that do not compete with the delicate Chanterelles.

When I am in Paris trying to stretch my Euros, I often make a tender egg-white omelet for dinner. I add the fresh Chanterelles when the eggs are almost finished cooking.
With a crusty baguette and a lovely French wine, this meal is a beautiful and inexpensive way to enjoy an elegant meal without an elegant price tag in the comfort of your own kitchen.


A Brush with Color said...

OMG, do I wish I could have had that tonight!! You're making me drool! I had a veggie sandwich--it was good, but not like the description you just gave these beauties! LOL. I'm jealous. Sounded delicious. wonderful photos!

Camera Crazy said...

The Parisian market looks beautiful, as do your images of the mushrooms. I've been meaning to tell you that while in Chicago I came across a farmer's market on a Tuesday morning near the Flamingo. What a delightful surprise to find it amongst the mammoth buildings. It was chilly and drizzly so I didn't look as long as I might but I did see some beautiful flowers that don't grow in Florida.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci beaucoup Sue...hope you can find some of these tastey mushrooms to make a lovely meal for you and Joe.
Hope your travels are going well.

Salut Gail, you are always so generous and supportive to my new blog. Merci, merci...
I appreciate that so very much.
Yes there are many marché in downtown Chicago, I have gone to the one you speak of many times at lunch as my architecture firm was one block distasnt.
Also there is one in Daley Plaza
three block to north same days.
(where the Picasso sculpture is located).
You will see images of that soon as it is also the site of the "Chicago-ween" celebration and I will go to try to catch a photo or two.

Bisous to you both dear friends.