Archive for the ‘Ramblings’ Category

Hunting the elusive morels

Friday, May 20th, 2011

With the advent of spring in the Great Lakes area, it’s another year of trying to find the elusive morel mushroom. The past few years, the husband and I have been able to find a decent amount of morels in a woody nature trail area to satisfy our noshings.

A group of blonde morels

Blonde morels hiding in the groundcover

This year, I was not traveling during the start of the morel season so both of us were trekking through the woods, squinting and peering through the underbrush. We’ve gone out twice so far – our first batch is tucked away in the freezer and we decided to try to dry our second batch.

Finding these prized woodland morsels is an exercise in patience and endurance – several times, we’d be standing next to each other and one of us would look down and see the morels while the other person was totally oblivious. The ridgey texture of the mushroom caps allows them to blend into their surroundings, and they only reveal themselves when you’re viewing them at an angle that allows them to stand out.


The results of our 2nd hunt

Most of our past hauls have consisted of blondes, but this year we actually found a variety of different morels (longnecks, blondes, greys and the ultimate prize – the elusive black morels). Our second hunt was a week after our first hunt, and we definitely found more morels in our second outing.

In addition to morels, we also saw fiddleheads, ramps/wild leeks and other wild mushrooms.

There is a zen-like calming quality that you get to experience while you’re out mushroom hunting – you have to take your time and look at an area in several different ways to make sure you don’t overlook these sneaky fungi. For several hours, you’re able to forget about the hustle-bustle of the modern world & listen to the sounds of birds and other small wildlife. The area where we’ve been going has a stream, so you would get the babbling water and the occasion splash from freshwater fish.

Theoretically, the season here goes until early June, but with the increased greenery, it’s going to be harder to find these the next time we go out.

Bagel Gourmet

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Bagel Gourmet
250 Brook St
Providence, RI 02906
(401) 453-5560

Good Food : 4.5/5 | Good Service : 4/5  (Cash-only establishment)

Having grown up mostly in New York, I am very particular about my bagels. REAL bagels that have been made the traditional way : boiled then baked. Not these fluffy rolls that you get at your local Dunkin Donuts trying to masquerade as bagels, sporting a hole in the middle but hiding a bread roll interior. Outside of the New York groceries, bakeries and certain local bagel chains found while traveling, it’s been hard to satisfy my bagel cravings while home.

So a recent trip to Rhode Island gave me the excuse to find some authentic bagels to bring back home. Rhode Island is a lot closer to New York than Michigan, so I figured I had a higher chance of finding a bagel shop that would come close to experiencing that New York food icon. Some online research and talking to the locals pointed me to the Bagel Gourmet on Brooke Street, south of Brown University on the east Providence side of town.

Bagel Gourmet has 2 locations – one here, and another one on the north side of the university called Bagel Gourmet Olé. Yes, these places are run by Hispanics. And yes I was just as skeptical as you were when I first heard this – how good could a bagel made by Hispanics be?  I don’t think they don’t even have anything resembling bagels in Mexican/Hispanic cuisine!

Since I went there after the morning rush, I ordered my staple – 1 toasted sesame bagel egg sandwich with egg, ham and cheese. I rushed my foil-wrapped bagel back to my hotel room and eagerly opened the hot package. A review revealed the following ingredients :

  1. 2 toasted sesame bagel halves
  2. A fried egg! not the microwaved egg circle that many places will insert, but a good-to-honest egg cooked on an oiled griddle flat-top, creating a crispy egg edge
  3. 1 fried ham slice
  4. White american processed cheese creating a gooey white spread

After my first bite, I knew I had to go back and buy my dozen. So I came back home with my baker’s dozen of bagels.

The bagel texture from Bagel Gourmet reflects a true NY bagel – a slightly chewy outside with a soft inside when eaten plain. When toasted, you get a crisp crunchy outside surface that is still soft inside. These are not rolls trying to pass themselves off as bagels, but as close to the real thing without making a trip to NYC. They even have an irregular shape showing that they are being hand-formed.

I’ve got my dozen tucked away in the freezer, but I’m already counting the days to my next Rhode Island trip so that I can pick up my next batch …

No Smoking Ban for Michigan

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

It finally happened today! Michigan was able to pass a no smoking ban on workplaces, which includes restaurants and bars! Now we can enjoy our food without the aura of nicotine. Read more about the law at the Michigan government website.