As a blogger living in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve arrived. You cannot be a blogger worth her salt and not make mention of morel mushrooms. It simply isn’t permitted. If you were living in Alba, Italy it would be imperative to wax lyrical about the wonders of truffles. In London you’d have to find a way to do a bang-up write-up of bangers and mash. My friend in South Korea tells me eating small, live octopus is de rigeur for the truly initiated. Here in the Northwestern part of the United States, it’s morels.
Fried up, chopped up, loved up or served up just about any way you can imagine, morels are the defining marker of a true (forgive the use of the following word) foodie. They possess several characteristics that make them tres chic to us rain-addled fleece-covered Washingtonians waddling along slug-stomping in our Wellingtons. First off, they are elusive and seasonal. Secondly, they grow wild. Third, you typically have to hike to locate them. Fourth, they taste suspiciously of the terroir from which they hail. And fifth, when you slice them into two hemispheres, each side looks suspiciously like a kayak. Pacific Northwesterners cannot get enough of kayaks.
I jest, I jest, but truly, I do love morels, and I can’t wait every year, for their season to roll around. Even if you do have to hunt them in mukluks rather than Manolos. I picked up a healthy handful at the farmer’s market the other day to serve as an appetizer. With morels, simplicity is key to letting the fertile flavor of the mushroom shine. That’s why I didn’t want to overcomplicate this dish with frills like excessive sauce or even a starch to lap it up. The morels themselves can act as a firm base to balance the rest of the flavors of the appetizer, and yet still steal the show. In this instance, I pan-fried them and served each half with a sous vide quail egg, a smattering of Parmigiano Reggiano, some homemade cubed bacon, and a touch of thyme. It has to be my favorite way to eat morels. If you do this, be prepared to join the clean plate club in about three seconds flat.