Somehow we managed to retire (relatively) early this past Saturday night which enabled us to enjoy a leisurely Sunday morning pancake breakfast, accompanied by a nice quiche. Between sips of coffee, Erin suggested an adventure for the day: morel foraging. Two years ago, I had picked up some morels at the Farmers’ Market near our home and have taken to describing them as “the steaks of the forest”: earthy and meaty, they are the stately kings of fungi. Elusive, they carry a mystique about them, as well as intrigue: those lucky (or skilled) enough at finding them guard their finds as a fisherman his hole or a prospector a vein of gold.
Our quarry grew, so we heard, in old apple orchards. Fortunately, Kent County is Michigan’s apple country. We chose an orchard which had been around for more than a century, skirted its perimeter without finding anything, and began to follow a narrow path into the woodlands that boarded it. Truth be told, I had no expectations of finding anything. Peering into the woods on either side of us, I surveyed the bases of the trees. For a half an hour or more: nothing. And then, we almost stepped on two morels encroaching on the footpath. Looking around now further into the woods, several more presented themselves. We greedily plucked them up, looking around us to make sure that no one was watching. All told, there were 11 morels gathered. They were tucked away in pockets, hidden from the view of prying eyes as we made our way back to the car.
Later that evening, in the golden hour of the day, we cooked up the morels in a white wine cream sauce with fresh rosemary. The table was set on our front porch, too nice of a Spring day to eat indoors. Appropriately, these “steaks of the forest” were served alongside ribeye steaks of Red Poll beef and New York Strip Steaks of Highland beef with braised spinach. From start to finish, it was one of those rare days, one of those perfect days, one of those golden days that cannot be planned, only enjoyed. A rare find, indeed!