Doesn't 'amuse bouche' make you smile just saying it? Today's dish doesn't qualify as a small bite, but it definitely made my mouth happy.
I visited the local farmer's market this afternoon, hoping to find both New Mexico green chiles and some autumn mushrooms. Happily, I came away with both. The lobster mushrooms caught my eye because of their bright orange hue. I can't ever pass them by. I've only ever found one in the wild. Next to them was a big box of glowing, golden Chanterelles, but I went for the lobster boys, because they're harder to come by. The lobster mushroom - also known as the mushroom-eating mushroom,
is actually white, but the orange-red color comes from a symbiotic fungus. The lobster mushroom is actually a mold that parasitizes a Russula or Lactarius mushroom and "eats" it, turning its ordinarily unpalatable hosts into excellent edibles. However, if the host is poisonous, so will the lobster mushroom be. Feeling risky??? You can be confident of those sold commercially, from licensed foragers, but if you're collecting on your own, be sure to confirm the host mushroom before eating.
From a culinary standpoint, they're meaty and hearty, give a gorgeous color to sauces and soups, have a hint of sea flavor which can sometimes have a slightly spicy bite and a delicately sweet depth of flavor that's very satisfying. They have a nice kind of crunch even after long cooking in soups or simmered sauces. No flobby mushroom, this one!
Well, back to my gorgeous specimens. What will it be ~ a wavy risotto, peppered just enough to counter the sweetness of the mushrooms? Or an unctuous sauce of lobster mushrooms, shallots, garlic and cream over tagliatelle? Wild mushroom soup with a hint of Port? Decisions, decisions. It won by only a spore, but I went with pasta. Sometimes, life is just so good.