Happy Birthday (Chanterelle, Again)

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Another day of heavy rain and warm weather did it, the chanterelles have come out, just in time for my daughter’s birthday, who, alas, just left again.

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My first serious harvest this year was enough for two toasts (with Phantasia, a wonderful local goat cheese, and aragula sprouts),

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as well as a small salad with roasted vegetables.

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Let’s see what else July will bring.

A Week Later (Brood X – 4)

A week after the first emergence, the cicadas from Brood X are still coming, they and their exoskeletons are everywhere.

There is no point of hiding.

Instead, leaving the exoskeletons for the birds creates an essential diversion.

That the birds live in the land of plenty this year allowed me to harvest for the first time the cherries from my weeping cherry. Tiny, tart, and tasty.

They just have three weeks. Every second counts. Maybe we should live like that, too.

Glenburn Moonshine

It’s that time of the year again.

Last year’s Darjeeling season was difficult — Covid interrupted the harvest, and almost all early invoices were stuck in transit.

I heard this year was problematic, too, because of lack of rain, but what I have sampled so far is excellent. One of my favorites this year is the Glenburn Moonshine – Elite | EX-24 from my trusted merchant at Tea Emporium.

This is one of the most flowery Darjeelings I ever had. Smooth, delicate, and still substantial.

Rácsos Linzer (Wenckheim V)

…because this Linzer torte was always his favorite,
and that’s why she was taking it to him,
three baking pans’ worth…

 

Rácsos Linzer is Hungarian for Linzer Tart, which used to be my least favorite cake. I remember it came with a chewy jam underneath a deliberate looking crisscross pattern of dough.

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My sequential reading diary of László Krasznahorkai’s novel Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming requires an intercession to discuss the significance of this tart in the book. It is all over.

…she could make such a Linzer torte that no one else ever could, certainly not me, to be sure, but it was grand, they ate it up, …

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Of course I had to make my own.The recipes ask for hazelnuts or almonds. I am a subversive person. So I went  for black walnuts. Most highly recommended. In the meantime, Krasznahorkai uses that little tart for metaphysical speculations:

— it all depends on whose intuition we’re talking about, are we talking about the intuition of Auntie Ibolyka or the intuition of the Buddha, because it’s not the same, not at all — if, on the one hand we feel like having a piece of Linzer torte, or, on the other, we want to step off the edge of the precipice straight into a freefall —

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The recipes suggest red currant or raspberry jam. I didn’t have access to the former, but spiced up the latter with a few jalapeño peppers. Don’t the Hungarians like it spicy? I also quarantined a quarter and spread plum mus on it instead (spiced up with cardamom, in addition to cloves and cinnamon).

…the big problem is with this attack, presumably with this attack there’s the possibility, namely the high probability that in our great hurry we’ll end up burning that Linzer torte, …

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No, I set a timer. Thank you very much.

As you can see, I replaced the crisscross pattern by something else which was meant to look like a tessellation of the hyperbolic plane. János Bolyai would have been confused. Computer graphics is easier.

In the appendix, Krasznahorkai lists under UTILIZED MATERIALS — DESTROYED: Auntie Ibolyka’s Linzer torte with two baking dishes …

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So be it.

 

Infidelity (Mushroom 3)

After harvesting, cleaning, processing, eating, freezing, photographing my beloved chanterelles for over a month, it is maybe time to elope a little and have at least a careful look at what else is out there in the local woods.

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Let’s keep it anonymous. I don’t know enough about mushrooms to tell you their names.

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Nor do I know how safe they are. After all, I am just looking…

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Their beauty is admittedly tempting, though.

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Well, some of them look tastier than others.

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And this one’s best days are over. To be continued…

Chanterelle (Mushroom 2)

There are, more or less, two kinds of mushrooms: Those you can eat safely, and the other ones. Among the edible, I can identify morels and chanterelles. The latter ones have become abundant lately:

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Over the last few weeks, I probably have collected about 10 pounds. 

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They are not only beautyful, they also taste extremely well. So here are two micro-recipes:

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Step 1: Clean. A toothbrush will do. Don’t be squeamish, a bit dirt won’t harm you. This will also help to sort out the fake chanterelles, in case you accidentally got some. The fake chanterelles have true grilles, while the true chanterelles have fake grilles. Easy.

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Fry at medium heat. For immediate consumption, I use a bit of olive oil, garlic, pepper, sprinkle with cilantro. In that form, they freeze well, or better are eaten right away. I like them with tagliatelle noodles.

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A second option is to use lots of butter. When almost done, add a bit tomato paste and vinegar, and blend it carefully with more butter until smooth. Spice it up, if you like, but make sure not to overpower the delicate taste of your chanterelle butter.

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This will go well with the right kind of bread, for instance a decent loaf of baguette (one doesn’t always need to have a thick crust…)

The butter will also freeze well. If there is anything left.

Phantasia

Food is art.

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Local Indiana goat cheese (which can be very good, as visitors from France have admitted) has become more local since the Goat Conspiracy from Bloomington added artisan goat cheese to their product line.

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Their (very limited) highlight (so far) is Phantasia, coated with a thin layer of charcoal to encourage the growth of the characteristic mold.

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At current temperatures, the cheese quickly starts to flow, calling back memories of the lava flows of Iceland.

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It goes exceedingly well the excellent local bread from Muddy Fork Bakery. What better is there to enjoy in this weather?

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Presents to Self (Solitaire IV)

A birthday in quarantine is a limited experience.

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Above is the 2020 Glenburn Moonshine Elite, the only Darjeeling that has made it to me this year so far. An amazing tea.

Below are some Pu-Erh cakes that will hopefully last a year.

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More food, for heart and brain:

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Of course there needs to be a puzzle. Let’s call it Quarantine. You have to go on an errand, visiting all twenty vertices of the map below (it will take a while to walk this, I hope).Errands 01

But there is a curfew. This means that you can only visit each of the twenty places once. If you are seen somewhere a second time, you become suspicious and will be eaten by a grue. You also need to end up where you started — sleeping in someone else’s home is suspicious.

Finally, traveling from place to place requires a special permit in the color of the edge along which you travel. So you will need to carry a few permits (being eaten by a grue is unpleasant). For instance, an orange permit will allow you to use any of the orange edges as often as you dare, but only those. There are six different colors, and hence six different permits.

Permits are expensive. What is the smallest number of permits that allows you to visit each place exactly once, returning to your starting point at the end?

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Upper Namring 2019

There is a lot to say about a good cup of tea (and a good book). It’s time for my yearly post about the new First Flush Darjeeling teas.

My main source this year is again the Tea Emporium. I like that they are located directly in Darjeeling, use a traditional packaging, and have been consistent in quality over many years.

My favorites this year are the earliest invoices, in particular the invoice 3 from Upper Namring above.

Above are the leaves from 2018 and 2019 in comparison. I can’t see much of a difference, but the taste and smell this year is much more intense-floral.

Just before you steep the tea, rinse the leaves with near boiling water for a few seconds and smell them. There is nothing like this.

Pu’Er

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Now that winter has arrived here, it’s time for a warm cup of tea and a few in-house pictures of the experience, as threatened.

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Late last year I received two small Pu’er tea cakes as a gift. My conception of tea has changed over the years from tea bags over branded tins with generic names to loose tea from single tea gardens, and my expectation likewise from powder to beautifully rolled leaves, to be consumed as fresh as possible.

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So how would one dare to press tea leaves into bricks or cakes, and let them ripen? It helped a little that the cakes were nicely wrapped. So I took a quick course. Pu’er tea undergoes a special kind of fermentation that  can take many years. People buy raw Pu’er and let it mature like good wine. Alternatively, one can buy cooked Pu’er tea that has undergone a special procedure to accelerate aging. Prices vary considerably. Preparation is a story by itself. 

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One carefully breaks the cake into chunks. I placed about 10g of Ripe Pu’er into a steal tea infuser, and brew cup sized portions, using boiling waters. The first infusion steeps only 5 seconds to clean and loosen the leaves. Then I let the tea steep  for 30 seconds, increasing the time by 15 seconds for each subsequent infusion. This seems to do the job. 

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What you get is strong brew unlike anything else. It is very far away from the elegance of a Darjeeling or the floral delicacies of an Oolong. You get strong earthy notes, some fish, some mushroom, which I found, to my surprise, not unpleasant. Later infusions become more mellow and reveal complexity. The best: Near and far, I seem to be the only one around who likes it, so I can have it all for myself…