After I attended BlogHer Food, I had an extra day in San Francisco to hang around and do some more sightseeing before my flight home. The first place I hit was The Ferry Building Marketplace. It isn’t a very large market, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.
The San Francisco Ferry Building is a terminal for ferries that travel across the San Francisco Bay. The present structure opened in 1898, replacing its wooden predecessor, and survived both the 1906 and the 1989 earthquakes.
On the grounds outside the building there was what appeared to be a farmer’s market/craft fair going on. I wandered around a little, picked up a couple of t-shirts and moved on. Inside the building was where the real action was! There was a host of specialty and artisan food shops and restaurants. I was in heaven! It was a good thing I packed one of my big old Envirosax bags in my purse that morning!
I spent some time at Recchiuti Confectioners and stocked up on lots of fleur de sel caramels and pâtes de fruits. Then, I moved on to some macarons at Miette, and over to some “pig” at Boccalone Salumeria. My bag was getting pretty full and I was winding up my excursion when I caught a glimpse of something that stopped me in my tracks. It was bushels full of these…..
FRESH ORGANIC CHANTERELLE MUSHROOMS!!!
I was beside myself with glee! I had heard much about them, and read much about them, but had never, ever seen them up close and personal before. I immediately knew what I had to do – buy a bunch and take them home with me. Hey, it was only 3000 miles to get home. I could do it. And, I wasn’t about to let airport security get in my way!
Chanterelles are one of the most distinctively flavored kind of mushrooms in the world. They are described as having the fragrance of apricots and and a slightly peppery, almost floral flavor. They are found in mixed woods, hiding under conifers and oaks. Chanterelle mushrooms are prized by professional chefs, home cooks, and anyone who knows what they are.
As the clerk at Far West Fungi tallied up my purchases (which also included a bag of dried morels and some truffle salt), I saw something else that made me absolutely swoon!
This was too much! I had only dreamed about cooking with fresh truffles before, and now, here was a whole basket of them sitting right in front of me. I HAD to get one, so I sniffed out the most fragrant (and biggest) one I could find and bought it too.
“The French black truffle is considered the finest of the edible fungi and has a place in gastronomy alongside saffron, caviar, foie gras and the finest of wines. Widely considered as the jewel of French cooking prized for its unique flavour and intoxicating aroma” ~Brillat Savarin
A truffle is a highly fragrant tuber which many chefs and other gastronomes consider the king of all fungi. Edible truffles are held in very high esteem in international haute cuisine. They grow randomly on the roots of truffle oaks. Black truffles are highly aromatic, earthy and pungent. They are predominantly harvested in France, however they are also found in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. I don’t know where my black truffle was born. I was so excited to find it that I didn’t think to ask.
This is what a black truffle looks like on the inside.
I carefully kept my chanterelles and black truffle in an insulated bag with an ice pack during the rest of my stay in San Francisco. When it was time for me to get on the plane for Florida, I stuck the bag in my purse and prayed like mad that no one at the airport would take it away from me. Just my luck, I got a nosy TSA officer.
Nosy TSA Officer: “What’s this in the bag?”
Me: “Uh…It’s my lunch.”
Nosy TSA Officer: “Lunch? It looks like a bunch of mushrooms and a black rock!”
Me: (getting nervous) “A black rock! Hehe! That’s a good one! Hehe! It’s actually a black truffle.”
Nosy TSA Officer: “What the heck is a black truffle?”
ME: “It’s a a fungal fruiting body that develops underground and relies on mycophagy for spore dispersal.”
(Okay, I really didn’t say that. Just checking to see if you were paying attention! I told him it was a type of edible fungus.)
Nosy TSA Officer: “You really gonna EAT that stuff?”
ME: “Absolutely!” (As soon as I get all the way to Florida, dig out some great recipes and cook a fabulous meal!)
Nosy TSA Officer: “Well…It’s your stomach. But you have to leave the ice pack behind.”
I threw down the ice pack, grabbed my loot and ran!
The whole way home (all 3000 miles) I imagined what I would do with that black truffle. I already knew that the chanterelles were going to star in this creamy, cheesy risotto. Of course, I would shave some of the truffle on top of it too.
I made my risotto the next evening for dinner. What can I say other than it was wonderful? The dish was a melding of magic with the delicate and fragrant mushrooms, creamy risotto, Parmesan and of course, the shaved truffle. Oh, the truffle! It was all I knew it would be. Earthy and dusky with the most lovely, heady aroma. I can’t even describe how elegantly it permeated the dish! I’m verklempt just thinking about it! Dear readers, if you can ever get your hands on one of those beauties, grab it. I promise you’ll be happy you did!
So, what did I make with the rest of my black truffle? Stay tuned and find out!
Risotto with Fresh Chanterelle Mushrooms and Shaved Black Truffle
6 cups chicken stock
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 ounce fresh black truffles, shaved
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large, wide heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and thyme and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their moisture and begin to brown.
Pour the wine into the pan, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add the cream and simmer until the cream is almost all absorbed. Remove mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan and melt. Add shallots and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the rice and coat until the kernels are shiny, another 2-3 minutes.
Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until it is almost completely absorbed. Continue to add stock 1/2 cup at a time following the same procedure until all of the stock has been added and absorbed into the rice. This should take about 20-25 minutes. The rice should be creamy and and slightly chewy.
Stir the mushrooms back into the pan and season with salt and pepper. Mix in the Parmesan cheese and top with parsley and shaved black truffle.
Makes 6 servings.