May 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 71 of 83

play with your food Simple Sips Cheers to... By Karen Eigenberger Hooray, hooray, at last we've reached the month of May! Time to toast to graduations, bridal showers, grills fi ring up and everything in between! What is the one drink that universally screams celebration? Sparkling wine, of course. But a satisfying sparkling wine doesn't have to be saved just for the biggest occasions. For toasting any small victory, follow these tips for fi nd- ing a great sip without breaking your budget. Nature's Mystery Stalking wild mushrooms By Michael and Jean Muckian "Don't try to fi nd morel mushrooms— they'll fi nd you," says Tami Lax, veteran forager and owner of Th e Old Fashioned and Harvest restaurants. And she knows whereof she speaks. Lax tells of a time when she hunted for morels on a farm in Richland Center, an area known for the famous fungi. Despite the promise of delicious riches, Lax didn't fi nd a single one. Dejected, she returned to her downtown Madison home where, in a neighboring courtyard, she suddenly spotted a single morel next to a tree. "I never saw a mushroom there before, and I haven't seen one since," she says, laughing at the mystery. Mushrooms are indeed mysterious. Th ey grow in the dark, consisting of a vast un- derground microscopic net of hyphae that feed on vegetable matter or roots of living plants. Th e mushroom itself is the fruit of the organism, thrust above ground to spread its spores. According to Michael Pollan, author of famed foodie bible "Th e Omnivore's Dilemma," this delightfully odd fungi helps decompose dying organic matter. In essence, mushrooms can be considered the earth's digestive enzymes. Morels, one type of wild mushroom na- tive to Wisconsin, are eagerly sought after from mid-April to early June, when the weather is just right for their growth. Other varieties, including chicken of the 70 BRAVA Magazine May 2012 woods, hen of the woods and chanterelle mushrooms, are also popular. Th e fi rst two varieties are distinctive and easily recog- nizable, says Lax, and therefore safe to eat. However, using a guidebook or consulting a mycologist is recommended prior to eat- ing mushrooms picked by a novice. Fol- lowing the adage "when in doubt, throw it out" is also a safe practice. Morels remain popular for their delicate fl avor and easy preparation—just sauté in a bit of butter and sprinkle with pepper and salt. Lax also cooks chicken of the woods and hen of the woods varieties, but likes them with fi sh or poultry. Th e delicate fl avor offers a subtle balance to any dish. Morels can be found at the Dane County 1. Choose French for elegance and quality, but try a region outside of Champagne. There are many other French regions producing excellent sparkling wines in the cremant style (a less-bubbly style from outside the Champagne region). Try: Klein Cremant d'Alsce Rose Pinot Noir, which offers a beautiful soft pink hue and elegant, tiny bubbles ($26). 2. Want a sparkling wine that is light and refreshing? Try Prosecco! Perfect for any occasion, Prosecco grapes create a fresh, light wine that often has citrusy notes. Try: Adami Prosecco ($16) has a slightly creamy mouthfeel and really shines. 3. Want a little sweetness? Try Moscato d'Asti. This semi-effervescent sparkling from the Asti region of Italy is made with the peachy-fresh Moscato grape. It is naturally low in alcohol, too. Try: My favorite is Saracco Moscato ($15). Farmers' Market, but one has to arrive ear- ly—preferably when the market opens— because they go so quickly. If hunting wild mushrooms is not your thing, Lax says you can purchase morels online. "But, like any food, know where it's coming from," she says. Michael and Jean Muckian have covered the local food and arts scenes for over 25 and 15 years, respectively. Find more mushroom informa- tion, recipes and wine pairings at the Culturosity blog on 4. Need to serve the masses? Look no further than affordable cava from Spain. Be sure to look for the words "methode champenoise" on the bottle to avoid the mass-produced varieties that will give you a headache. Try: Jaume Serra Cristalino is a good quality cava that can be found for as little as $7 a bottle (and is a good one to use for mimosas or bubbly "patio cocktails" this summer). Karen Eigenberger is partner at STEVE'S Wine-Beer-Spirits on Mineral Point Road. Visit Don't miss your wine selection of the month delivered right to your inbox! Register for the BRAVA e-newsletter today online!

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Brava - May 2012