Mushroom season is fast upon us, and on Wednesday, we'll be feasting on 10 different varieties of mushrooms for the 1st Annual Exotic Mushroom dinner at Union City Grille.
One delightfully unexpected development occurred last week. I got a call from a gentleman who is a forager of local mushrooms. His specialty is maitake, or hen of the woods, and chicken of the woods. Both are large, feathery, but meaty mushrooms. And, he assures me they are from within 3-4 miles of Wilmington. Mind you, it's a nice bonus they're local, but when you see and taste these beauties, you won't much care where they came from.
Mushroom foragers are understandably vague about where their mushrooms are grown. When you find a reliable spot, you want to keep it secret. I'm not even going to tell you his name, only that he supplies to Le Bec Fin, Lacroix, and Vetri in Philly, and locally to most restaurants you'd consider of high caliber.
I taste-tested the hen of the woods last night in my dinner of braised chicken thighs with onions, garlic, tomato, white beans and of course, mushrooms. They were so meaty and chewy, it was like someone sneaked beef tips in my dish. I've decided to put them in our second course lasagnette on Wednesday and we're going to make soup out of the chicken of the woods, notoriously textured and flavored just like- well, you get it.