Friday, August 15, 2008

Morel Mushrooms at Market Hall Produce

I can always find unusual and gourmet mushrooms at the farmers’ markets or specialty stores like Far West Fungi at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza, but it’s rare to get your pick of special shrooms at the neighborhood grocery store. That’s unless you live in Rockridge like me and you can shop at the Market Hall Produce Store.

That’s where I was earlier this week when I saw this box of morel mushrooms for sale. Market Hall Produce typically has several boxes of mushrooms that you don’t normally see at the supermarkets. Varieties like chanterelles, oyster, or enoki. But I was surprised to see morels because this fungi—popular in a lot of restaurant dishes—aren’t cultivated like others. You can only get them from mushroom foragers who get out into those wet areas where these mushrooms thrive and pick them. It’s definitely available only in the wild, and often you only see them dried and packaged.

They’re kind of an odd looking mushroom, without a typical cap and looking a bit like a dried sea cucumber to me. But they infuse a rich woodsy flavor to a pasta or risotto dish. Because they’re hand-picked in the woods, they’re pretty pricey. As you can see, Market Hall was selling them for $31.89 a pound. Of course, mushrooms are pretty light so you can get a nice handful without breaking your budget. The thing I don’t get is I thought mushroom season is in the fall and spring? So I don’t know where Market Hall got this big box of morels. But I’ve learned never to look a gift horse in the mouth. And just enjoy.

4 comments:

jando_27 said...

That is pretty odd. Morel season is basically over. We can get them in the wild around here (throughout Iowa/Nebraska). I know a lot of people who "mushroom hunt" and sell them.

We did it often as kids but we just ate them. Of course, my mom just battered and fried them in butter. Also, they were huge and fresh and not at all dry when the come right from the ground.

I had to laugh when I saw really small, kind of old and dried out ones at Whole Foods for $49.99 a pound about a year ago. I never knew I was eating such expensive food when I was a kid!

Chef Ben said...

I know, right? I was surprised to see it at the market too, but these were fresh, not dried. But like I said, why look a gift horse? You're lucky to have eaten that growing up. My brother in law and sister lives in the Northwest and they treat these mushrooms like jewels when they buy them in season. It's like truffles, but you don't need the pig! :)

Passionate Eater said...

I love your tip about how to get a little bit and make them go a long way. You know, at the Civic Center Farmers Market, if you make friends with the mushroom vendor there, he will give you a free (expensive) mushroom every now and then.

Sean said...

I luuuuuuuv morels, especially with roast chicken. Salivating now, wiping drool off keyboard. :)