Friday, July 24, 2009

More Summer 'Shrooms.

It is deep into a Budapest July, and given the economic macro-situation in our household, we have been staying at home most of the summer. We are in the middle of a heat wave, broken almost every three days by a cold front which brings on tornado style winds and hail storms. As I mentioned, this is good for very little but... wild mushrooms. Down at the Bosznyak Market this week it the mushroom sellers were pushing chanterelles, called róka gomba "fox mushrooms" in Hungarian. As I said a few posts back, all wild mushrooms sold have to be checked and certified by a resident mushroom expert at each market. Most of my mushroom picking friends learned their expertise by sitting with these folks at the height of mushroom season and watching how they identify the different types of wild mushrooms. Gombavizsgálat means "mushroom examinations." You can trust these folks. They mean business. Nobody gets sick.
Chanterelle mushrooms are firm and meaty. These cost about FT 500 for 30 dekas, enough for two of us to really make a meal from them. If you were to order these in a New York restaurant you would be explaining things to your banker next week.
We also got some Oyster mushrooms, which are cultivated in Hungary and don't have to go through the examination process. I used to see these in the USA in gourmet supermarkets - in Hungary they are almost as cheap and common as regular mushrooms. I usually eat these in soup.
Most Hungarians simply saute the mushrooms and serve them over meat as a sauce, make omlettes out of them, or stew them with paprika and onions for gomba pörkölt. I like the natural flavor of the mushrooms to shine through, and the best mushroom dishes I have ever had were in Italy... the market ladies always ask me "and how do you prepare them?"
Pretty simple: saute them in olive oil with crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Serve with pasta. But I like to have a bit of meat with my pasta... usually we hit a small butcher market in the back of the market that serves a largely Gypsy clientele, mainly because it is cheap and serves less than fancy cuts of meat. Which can mean different things in Hungary - I buy beef cheeks here for stew at a ridiculously low price, since nobody knows what to do with beef cheeks. Those babies are US$20 a pound in New York at wholesale prices for restaurants. But since it is scorching hot these days we do most of our cooking out on our ancient Turkish electric grill on our porch, and duck hearts were on sale. Marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and black pepper they grilled up very fast.
Voila! Grilled duck hearts with chanterelle mushrooms on capellini.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It seems that mushroom pic is from Bosnyák. Somehow even though I shop there from time to time the really good mushrooms sellers sell out before my tired eyes open. Neverthless, well played with your grilling!