I’m a mycophile, tried and true. Throughout my vegetarianism, mushrooms made a handy substitute for many meats. Finely diced and browned, they implied ground beef. Sliced and seared, they took on the toothsome texture of strips of pork or chicken. Mushrooms are the meat of the plant kingdom, and I love them no less for being a carnivore today.
But if you want more than the standard button, crimini or (yawn) portobello, then get thee forthwith to the Ferry Building to Far West Fungi. I’ve been frequenting these porcini peddlers for years, originally at the Heart of the City Farmer’s Market, on to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, and now at their permanent stand right in the main concourse of the Ferry Building itself.
Yes, they of course sell buttons, crimini and (yawn) portobello. But they also sell bear’s head, shiitake great and small, maitake, morel, chanterelle, matsutake, porcini, shimeji, nameko, enoki and all manner of other precious and otherworldy fungi, some more seasonal than others. They used to produce beautiful, pink-grey little almond mushrooms which both looked and tastes like almond, but I haven’t seen them in some time. I hope they bring them back.
Now, should you be restricted to more mundane mushrooms, here’s a little trick we learned in Bologna: Store regular old brown or white mushrooms in a paper bag on the counter for up to three days. They’ll dehydrate slightly, intensifying the flavor and lending a firmer, chewier texture. Sneaky, no?
Keep an eye peeled on FWF’s case, as they purvey other items that like the dark and dank, such as fiddlehead ferns (pictured, badly).
Far West Fungi
Ferry Building, Shop #34