Panini Girl

My obsessions-Italy and Cooking

June 15, 2011


Porcini-What The ??!!!!****

I love porcini mushrooms. I order them in Italy whenever I can. The season is really in full swing in the fall, but you may see them available in May. On our recent trip my friend A. ordered a steak with porcini and although the steak looked delicious, all I was interested in was tasting were the mushrooms. I wish I had ordered that entree.

Some years back it was fall and J. and I were in a restaurant in Rome. After we had placed our order, we asked if they had any fresh porcini. They replied yes and proceeded to bring us a huge platter of gorgeous mushrooms sauteed in olive oil. Once this was placed before us we forgot all about the rest of our food. I savored every bite, sopping up the juices on the plate with a crust of bread and wondered why we couldn’t get fresh porcini at home.

Hence the reason for this post. A few weeks ago I was at my weekly farmers’ market and spied what I thought might be porcini at the booth of the mushroom vendor. He was nowhere to be seen and I forgot to go back before I left the market. I’ve been checking ever since then, but haven’t seen anything that resembled porcini, until this past Saturday. There they were-two small baskets. Each held a single medium sized mushroom. I was fairly certain they were porcini and decided I would break the bank and buy them. The vendor was chatting with a few customers and I as I waited patiently I was dreaming about having these mushrooms with our dinner.

Finally it was my turn and my thoughts were confirmed. Yes, the two baskets held porcini. I could hardly contain my excitement-fresh porcini! Then, I asked the price. “30 dollars” he replied. I stammered “you mean $30 a pound?” and he answered “no, a basket”. Yes, he meant $30 per mushroom-a medium sized mushroom at that! I walked away wondering if there was anyone who would buy them…

I’ll just wait for Italy in October Cook With Porcini Girl In Italy-Autumn In Tuscany.

11 thoughts on “Porcini-What The ??!!!!****

  1. I absolutely love porcini. If it wasn’t for a recent French Laundry meal which featured white truffles I would even say they were my definitive favorite mushroom. I do wish, however, they were more affordable! I too have had to painfully pass the mushroom stand by :(.

  2. Hello, today I went shopping at a local greengrocer which offered about 20 types of mushrooms, some expensive and some not so much so, I did a twirl on my head when I saw that porcini were going for $29 a pound so I bought 1/8th of a pound for bragging rites…. Being that I’ve lived a good part of my life in northern Italy (Piemonte) and Sicily having bushels of freely collected mushrooms never presented a pocketbook problem. The only “problem” was that for a few months we’d eat mushrooms of all descriptions two or three times a day, sometimes they being cooked just in butter (so as to not interfere with pristine flavors) and more often than not in risotti, pasta sauces, broiled over an open outdoor flame (with just olive oil and minced garlic stuffed in their “gills”, in soups, stews, salad, etc. The “problem” was that after two or three months of mushrooms of all kinds it became hard to look one in the face… Of course with me being now in California and not privy to family picked “funghi” I constantly ponder just as to why did I shy away from them.? Thankfully not too far from my home a nephew collects the wild fungus of all types that grow in abundance, I don’t trust my mushroom knowledge and leave the harvesting up to the boy in that he took a course on how to do so at the university level; hopefully now enough mushrooms will arrive at my home to make my longing for the wild variety being sated. No, this time I won’t complain….

  3. That is an outrageous price. They grow all around us in Bagni di Lucca in autumn and are very reasonable. If you know where to go you can even gather them yourself. Perhaps we could try collecting them in October.

  4. $30.00 a pound at the local market….wow, its not like its truffles, which go for a lot more….I couldn’t believe it when Henry’s was charging over $30.00 a pound for pine nuts….

    I hope it was magic mushrooms, or something with just as good of a buzz, for that price. Sheesh. LOL!

  6. Wild mushrooms are common around Bagni di Lucca (or at least just up the valley at Casabasciana) in May and June as well as at the end of August, September and early October. Three conditions are necessary for them to appear: rain, warmth and no wind. Summer is too dry and winter is too cold and windy. We’ve just had a week of rain, now the sun is out warming up the soil and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we won’t have any strong winds. Alfredo found three porcini today. Hooray! There are probably lots more to come and I’m planning risotto ai funghi for one of the cooking lessons with Gabriella, Alfredo’s wife, in my Cheese + Bread + Honey tour next week..

  7. What the ??!!! indeed! Outrageous price and now I have to price them here in NY…wish me luck.

    • Patti-let me know if you ever see them there and what they go for. The only other place I’ve seen them was in the Pikes Market in Seattle and they were about $25 per pound.

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