There is something magical about our autumnal weather so far this year. Thick fogbanks cling to the hillsides and to the valley floor each morning, glowing gold as they reflect the rays of the rising sun. In the woods, where everything is enveloped in misty whiteness and the visibility is limited, instead of the sweeping high views one is drawn to look closely to the low ground. And here and there, you sense the presence of forest elves.
This mysterious morning fog is creating a great mushroom season - oh, how I love mushrooms! I know a lot is said about the value of seasonal, local produce in terms of economics and freshness. All most true and important. But there is more to it than that: seasonal produce makes tasty meals that fit the mood and the needs of a season. When we came home from a walk through the autumn woods this weekend, we didn't want the meals that have been staples from our garden all summer, like cold tomato salads, or pasta con pesto. Instead, our palates and bodies craved a hot risotto ai funghi porcini.
I cooked the porcini with just a little garlic and olive oil: they were so fresh and fragrant that I didn't want any herbs or other flavors to compete with their taste.
The risotto was warming on a cool October day, and the porcini richly aromatic with their musty, nutty flavors. Yes, local and seasonal produce tastes and feels so much better - especially with a little help from forest elves.