Chanterelles and Chardonnay
Chanterelle; such a pretty word to describe one of Oregon's amazing culinary treasures.
I've never hunted for mushrooms on my own, but understand from friends that finding chanterelles (Oregon's official state mushroom) can be be habit-forming. I imagine, if I am ever so lucky as to go mushroom hunting with a seasoned guide, a rousing day in the damp, cold, brisk air. The misty fog rolling in and around the Oregon coastal forest floor would add a quality of mystery to the experience, and I'd feel like an Indian tracker to come across the first golden bunch, buried beneath yellowed Alder leaves. Chanterelles live in symbiosis with Douglas Fir trees, so it is said to look amidst fir forests to find the bounty. Alder trees also like living with Douglas Fir, so the bright yellow fallen Alder leaves provide a tell-tale path to the mushrooms, even as they camouflage the fungi.
I also imagine a booted-and-bundled-up mushroom hunting day through the fecund forest to stimulate a great appetite. The dish that would keep me focused on the reward of the day would be a nice gooey, warm mushroom risotto.
My Baby "hunted" for local chanterelles at the local market yesterday, and scored a bounty. At the market he found not only the famous Golden Chanterelles in abundance, but also the smaller, more delicately flavored Yellow Footed Chanterelles. With the mushrooms as a centerpiece, he created a rich, homey risotto which was really welcome, comforting and satisfying after a long, ward week.
In his wine-pairing genius, My Baby served the 2007 Amalie Robert Dijon Clones Chardonnay. Amalie Robert is also one of Oregon's treasures, enologically speaking, and every bit as worth seeking out as are chanterelles.
Amalie Robert Chardonnay continues to be one of my absolute favorites. I've written before about it here (2007 vintage) and here (2006 vintage), and will continue to do so as long as it charms me like it does. Writing about this wine yet a third time in less than a year reminds me of the importance of living in the moment. Ever time we drink a wine, just like every time we hold a baby or make love or laugh out loud is a new time to be appreciated.
Here is a recipe for Wild Mushroom Risotto that we followed, more or less. Ours was colored golden-orange, as we used boxed vegetable stock rather than chicken stock, for no other reason than that's what our larder possessed. I opt for the stand-there-and-stir method of risotto-making rather than the oven methods touted of late. Tradition, maybe, or that it is a good time to dream. About a mushroom hunt.