I realize that calling the mushrooms in this bruschetta wild-like may sound a bit odd– maybe even downright unappetizing. You see, I’m trapped by the dilemma of my own impossible standards. The older and crankier I get, the more I find myself irritated by the deliberate mislabeling of items on restaurant menus, in fancy-pants grocery stores and yes– even on some of the best blogs out there. Words should have meaning. Labels should be accurate. Shorthand went the way of secretaries in the 1960s.
Sometimes the dilemma is caused by some copywriter someplace just being sloppy or lazy. So they fall back on certain “culinary buzz words”. Words designed to move the food onto the plate and out of the restaurant. I bet there’s a test for these menu writers and they’ve learned through rote recitation that there are certain ways to make someone order something.
Take fish for example. You’ll often see the phrase “today’s catch” on seafood restaurant menus. Well bull-crap. I mean what are the odds that the chef grabbed his fishing pole on just the day you happened to come into the restaurant? Do you really believe that the fish you are eating was caught today? More precisely the menu should read “fresh fish”– or at least I would hope that would be a precise and accurate phrase.
Local is another word that can be incredibly misleading. Of course it’s possible that the roasted “local” beets are indeed “local”. But when I see that phrase on a menu also sporting the above mentioned “today’s catch” phrase– I’ll be honest, it makes me doubt their truthfulness straight down the menu.
The one menu lie that bugs me the most is the phrase “wild mushrooms”. It’s almost never true. Just about any mushroom more exotic than a plain ole white button mushroom is almost always labeled “wild” even on the best, most sincere menus in town.
Look at the beautiful mushrooms I picked up today at the Hollywood Farmers Market. Certainly beauties like this are wild mushrooms. I mean if you had to draw a picture of wild mushrooms these are exactly what you’d draw. Right? Well, nope… But this doesn’t mean they’re not quality mushrooms. Organic mushrooms. Gorgeous mushrooms. Perfect mushrooms. It just means that these mushrooms are cultivated from varieties that are typically associated with the wilderness.
There’s nothing at all wrong with that. But somehow, somewhere some marketing genius discovered that we’re far more likely to pass these gorgeous mushrooms right on by unless they are incorrectly labeled as wild mushrooms. Which makes me just a little bit crazy.
Don’t get me started on the term organic. Poop is organic, right? GREG
Do not assume from my rant that the Hollywood Farmers Market mislabeled these beautiful mushrooms as “wild”. Their labeling system was spot on, and in fact was the inspiration of all this hullabaloo.
- 1 lb assorted “wild” mushrooms, such as cremini, shitake & chanterelles
- 1/4 c olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste as needed
- 2 T unslated butter
- 1 T all-purpose flour
- 1 c milk
- 3 oz taleggio cheese, grated
- 3 oz fontina cheese, grated
- 1 T fresh thyme leaves
- 1 c baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch thick rounds & toasted
Roast the mushrooms: Place the oven rack in center position. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the mushrooms in a medium-sized bowl, drizzle in olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread the mushrooms out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet in as close to a single layer as possible. Roast in the oven until slightly browned, about 12 minutes. Set aside.
Prepare the sauce: Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Stir in the flour until a paste forms. Gradually pour in the 1/4 cup milk, whisking until smooth. Bring the béchamel sauce to a simmer over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking often, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the taleggio and fontina cheese until melted, followed by the thyme leaves. Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Add the roasted mushrooms and all their juices to the pan, stirring to re-heat. Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl. Serve warm as topping for the toasted baguette slices.
Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining for The Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival and Camp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in Panama & Costa Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network.