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With our September Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine still fresh in our hands and on newsstands, thoughts of wild mushrooms are on my mind -- thanks to an excellent feature story about mushroom hunter and chef Darren Hawley in said issue. The feature is truly one of food and wine editor Tim Tebeau's best, and our photographer Todd Zawistowski went above and beyond his normal outstanding work to capture the beauty of the mushrooms both in their natural state and once they end up in Hawley's recipes. True mushroom hunters and gourmands know that despite all the attention spring morels mushrooms get, the most flavorful mushrooms pop in our late summer / fall forests.
With wild mushrooms roaming around in my mind, you can imagine how pleased I was to see at the Traverse City Farmers Market a gentleman selling wild mushrooms. Right there. Cases of them. And at reasonable prices. When I stopped to talk, I learned the mushroom hunter's name is Ken Harris. The good news for people in Northwest Lower Michigan is that Harris hits farmers markets not only in Traverse City, but in towns all over the North--Charlevoix, Petoskey, Boyne City...more. Plus he supplies many restaurants--a good sign, since you want a trusted source in your wild mushroom purveyor.
So if, like me, you don't necessarily have the time to wander the woods looking for wild mushrooms, but are dying to check them out because you've heard how amazingly tasty they are...keep an eye out for Harris at your local farmers market. You can't miss him. He's probably the only one there with piles of wild mushrooms on the table in front of him, a mushroom hunter book at the ready and tubs more mushrooms stacked a few feet away.
And of course, if you want ideas for tasty ways to use the shrooms, check out Tim Tebeau's article in the September issue of Traverse—recipes in there guaranteed to satisfy. (Of course, you could always go to Crystal Mountain, where Hawley chefs, and have him just fix something up for you.)—Jeff Smith is editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine