Eating Locally: Golden Chanterelles

| March 11, 2009 | 2 Comments
  • 2 Comments

chanterelle mushroom

Walking through the Ferry Building recently, I couldn’t pass up locally foraged chanterelle mushrooms from Far West Fungi. Chanterelles first become available to us in the fall, being foraged from the Pacific Northwest. They arrive with the first rains, and they begin to grow closer to San Francisco as we get into wintertime and cooler, rainier weather. Because chanterelles grow as the result of a symbiotic relationship between fungus and host plant (usually a tree), they are always found in the wild and don’t grow outside of a forest environment.

In his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan details foraging for chanterelle mushrooms with a mushroom hunter — one of several area people who forage for these delicious mushrooms in nearby forests and then bring them to San Francisco to sell to restaurants and stores.

I jump at the chance to buy chanterelle mushrooms because I love their meaty texture and delicious flavor. It’s been said that they have an apricot scent, and I think that the flavor is deliciously strong without being overwhelming. They don’t tend to cook down as much as say, button mushrooms, so the yield per person is better.

Keep an eye out for chanterelles on local area menus. I usually find them at the local gourmet pizzerias as a pizza topping, and SPQR regularly has them on their menu sauteed with spinach.

When cooking at home, I usually make very basic dishes that show off the chanterelle flavor. Tonight, I’m thinking of using mine in a very basic risotto. In the past, I’ve sauteed them simply with butter and topped with a poached egg. I also like them tossed with a whole grain such as farro or brown rice.

Chanterelles have a hefty price tag — I purchased a meager amount at Far West Fungi for $20 per pound. But they are meaty enough and substantial enough to be a main ingredient in place of meat, which is how I justify the cost.

Currently, the chanterelles available at Far West Fungi and local farmers markets are being foraged from all around the Bay Area: Sonoma, Marin, and Alameda counties. We can expect to see chanterelle mushrooms for at least a few more weeks, and if it rains then possibly another month or two.

Chanterelles on Bay Area Bites:
Hunter gatherer: Chanterelles in Big Sur

Chanterelle mushroom recipes on the blogs:
Truffled Chanterelle, Celery Root and Potato Gratin
Warm Chanterelle and Pancetta Salad
Farro with Chanterelles, Apples, Apples and Apples

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Category: bay area, farmers markets, san francisco

About the Author ()

"My passion for food began young." I am the editor of the influential website www.EatLocalChallenge.com which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers. I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003. I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure. I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers' Market, which was released in February 2010. I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what's in season and chatting with farmers.
  • http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites wendygee

    A good place to purchase all kinds of mushrooms including chanterelles is Monterey Market in Berkeley.

  • Lily

    I have a couple pounds of chantrelle mushrooms I am selling, continuously harvesting and picked daily. If interested my email is yurfavrt@gmail.com