Foodie Finds

Taste of the Town

The Herbfarm’s Ron Zimmerman on his favorite food finds.

By Kristin Cordova November 3, 2009

Mmm, mmm, mmm! It’s mushroom season at The Herbfarm.

It’s mushroom mania over at The Herbfarm, where founding chef Ron Zimmerman is busy conjuring up this week’s feast, titled Menu for a Mycologist’s Dream. As Zimmerman points out, ‘tis the time for fungal feasting, so this is one dinner that’s not to be missed.

Ingredient of the Moment
Right now we’re in wild mushroom season, so it’d be hard to overlook them since this is one of the great wild mushroom epicenters of not only North America, but the whole world. There are thousands of varieties out there, hundreds of which are edible. King Boletus [otherwise known as a porcino] is certainly one of the great mushrooms. It’s very meaty and holds up well to braising and gives you nice dark flavors. And the matsutake [ a favorite of Monsoon’s Eric Bahn ] is almost at the other end of the spectrum. You appreciate it for its aromatics, it’s subtly, which is why it’s so popular in Japan.

One of the greatest cookbooks ever written, in my mind, is the Fredy Girardet cookbook [The Cuisine of Fredy Girardet]. During his 20-year-run he was considered the best chef in the world, and he was in a small village outside of Geneva, Switzerland. They’re very simple recipes. The real brilliance in learning to cook is how much you showcase the central core of what something is, and that’s what Girardet taught me.

Naming Nature by Carol Yoon, who lives somewhere here in the area. But if you want to talk about books, this whole restaurant exists because of an obscure book called The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth , which was written by Roy Andries De Groot.

Guilty Food Pleasure
I love to make things out of potatoes. I have ancient cast iron skillets that have never been washed with detergent so they’re the most perfect non-stick skillets in the world. The temperature is so even that you can do all kinds of rösti (the Swiss German word for a shredded potato cake) or potato pancake things that come out incredibly perfect.

I really like Boat Street Café and Café Campagne. I like the fact that Boat Street does all these pickled things—like pickled carrots, you name it. It’s a really good use of that genre, rather than just buying olives from Italy or something, to create something out of local ingredients. They’re really well done.

Local food geeks dish on more tasty finds HERE.

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