The morel of the story

Yellow and Gray Morels

Photo by WFIU Public Radio (Indiana Public Media) via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC 2.0)

(Sorry for the pointless pun above; writing five headlines a week can be tough. I don’t know how the pros do it!)

This past weekend J and I treated ourselves to dinner at Brasserie V. J is a HUGE fan of mushrooms, so when friendly bartender Mike told us about the special morel starter, we had to say yes. They’d recently gotten their first batch of morels of the season and had been featuring them in entrées for a few days, but Saturday night’s special was a quarter pound of the savory delights, simply sautéed in butter with garlic. The price was steep for our pocketbooks ($15) but fair for morels out at a restaurant, so we took the plunge. We did NOT regret it! Thanks to Brasserie V’s Facebook page, I saw that this special reappeared earlier this week. So, keep your eyes peeled for the next few weeks at Wisconsin’s fine restaurants, produce vendors, and farmers’ markets.

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Our morel starter at Brasserie V. Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

For the uninitiated, what exactly are morels? As Samara Kalk Derby detailed in this week’s “In Season” feature in the Wisconsin State Journal,

These wild mushrooms have a sponge-like, honeycombed appearance and a smoky, earthy, nutty flavor. They can vary greatly in color and size. “Typically the early mushrooms are a darker color. Some call them black. And they are typically small in stature,” said Pat McCluskey, who farms with his two brothers as McCluskey Brothers at Shilelagh Glen Farms in Hillpoint….

Typically [morel season around here] lasts about a month, generally from the third week of April until the third week of May. ‘This season seems to be late in developing,’ McCluskey said.

For more, including a couple recipes, check out her full piece. Then watch this episode of Wisconsin Foodie, which features foraging for morels followed by some cookin’ and eatin’. If that doesn’t sate you, check out this 2009 article (still very relevant) by Karen Herzog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: maybe next spring we’ll head to Muscoda for their Morel Mushroom Festival!

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