valentine's day and wild black trumpet mushrooms

by Kendall Woodruff


The past couple of weeks have been such a whirlwind. Maybe it feels that way for everybody this time of year but man things are happenin'. Hameed was spending time in New York last week for work and Mady is over in Hawaii this week for some vacation. Hameed and I will be moving next weekend too, which I am super excited about. A back patio! A fireplace! A real closet! Yippeee!

And on top of that is the usual excitement about food, the market, Rainbow Grocery, sunshine, and all the other little things that make life good.

Valentine's Day has never been a big deal for me so I didn't really mind that Hameed was still in NY. Mady and I had quite the spread. Only the kind of spread you enjoy when Hameed's not around because a major player in this particular kind of spread is a silky delicious cheese with just the sweetest slightest tinge of blue veining. 

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It was the perfect combination of everything. We had black label cambozola, some fig jam, and a big bowl of salty marcona almonds. Cambozola is a triple cream brie-style cheese with just the right amount of blue in it. Everything you want in a cheese, I'm serious.

Since we couldn't just have cheese for dinner (totally could have), I picked up some gravlax from Le Beau and we enjoyed that with all the fixin's and it was like heaven. Le Beau is one of my favorite little markets around here. It's just a block away and it really has everything I could want in a small neighborhood grocery. Anyway, I was interested in how they cure the salmon, because it's in-house cured and I recently read in Gather Journal about curing fish in in salt and sugar. I asked the guy there and he showed me one that was in the midst of curing. They bury it in loads of salt, sugar, dill, ground juniper berries, and lemon rind, and then they weigh it down and let it sit for a couple days. It was so cool. I will definitely be trying that soon. I just saw juniper berries at the market actually.

Such a satisfying combination of food! Mady made us two Boulevardier's and life was good. 

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At the farmers' market on Saturday, Far West Fungi was selling wild black trumpet mushrooms. Had never seen these guys before. I'm a huge mushroom person. I especially love the foraged mushrooms like chanterelles. I have a friend from Vermont who has foraged chanterelles many many times. I must do this. 

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I had to get a basket of the black trumpet mushrooms because they just looked so darn good. After a bit of roaming around the market, I decided to pick up some leeks and farro to go with the mushrooms. 

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It was a little bit tough to decide what to make with these beautiful little fungi. After perusing the always awesome Food 52 for a little bit, I decided to make a harissa. Harissa is a spicy north African condiment made from different kinds of chiles, spices, and sometimes tomato paste. It goes with everything - meats, veggies, pasta, eggs, all that stuff. 

Rainbow Grocery was the perfect place to get the chiles and spices. The bulk section at this place is seriously a bulk-lover's dream. A real kid in candy store I am amongst all those bins of bulk. Buying stuff I don't need left and right because it looks AWESOME and it's CHEAP. Like dried rose petals. Only paid 60 cents, but seriously, what am I gonna do with those? 

Anyway, so I got a New Mexican chile, an ancho chile, and three guajillo chiles. Soaked the chiles in some red wine vinegar until soft and then ground them in a food processor with some toasted spices, lost of garlic, and a little olive oil and lemon juice.

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I simmered the farro in a big pot of water until it was al dente. In a separate pan I sautéed a couple of leeks, the mushrooms, and a few clothes of garlic until fragrant. Then I mixed everything together with a few spoonfuls of the harissa, some olive oil, lemon juice, and lots of lemon zest. Topped my bowl with goat cheese, a big handful of toasted pine nuts, and a few dashes of extra harissa. Hameed picked up some naan from the neighborhood Pakistani joint and it was perfect with the spicy farro. Seriously, farro is like pasta! It is SO delicious. There are endless possibilities with this kind of grain. I'm officially a fan.

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Yes. I was quite happy with this. Now I have almost a whole jar of harissa to use up with other goodies.

We wrapped up the weekend by spending Sunday afternoon at the beach with some sandwiches. Beautiful sunny weather, a little bit windy, and pretty big waves actually. It's not HAWAII (ahem, Mady), but it ain't bad. Not bad at all. 

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