Foraging for morels on hunting grounds in North Freedom, Wisconsin has topically little to do with imbibing in New York, however, they are equally delightful (though eating morels is even more delightful) and I imagine that the readers of Imbibe New York care for morels just as much as us. Last year, Ellen, Oscar and I arrived a week late, past prime; picking only ten in total during our rainy May stay. This year, we flew with Tim to hunt the elusive nightshade with Ellen’s pops Jim, and this year, we had much better luck.
For the long weekend, we slept in the hunting cabin. And for two days we drove around in Jim’s mule from site to site, dead elm to dead elm, trekking through forests rich with ticks and prickly ash. Thankfully the weather held out, and the promised rains never poured forth.
Home in my tick-free apartment (very traumatic these ticks–we dug two from me and one each from everyone else), I regret not having taken more photos of morels in place. However, when a morel reveals itself to the hunter (just as with the forest fairies one must ready herself for the mushrooms to appear), the blood rushes and the knife comes out. There is rarely a thought of photos, because if you dare look away, the morel might just vanish from sight.
With two search sessions, one in the morning and another in the afternoon (with breaks for beer and Carr’s cheese curds for lunch), we picked around 70 morels in total. Maybe 75. We drank a lot of Wisconsin’s finest: New Glarus’ Spotted Cow and Fat Squirrel Ale, Capital Brewery’s Pilsner and Ale, and Leinenkugel’s Beer, while lunching and picking, while eating morels and while riding in the back of the mule, inhaling fumes in the rainy forest.
The bounty. By Saturday morning, we’d collected this much:
And Saturday night at the hunting cabin, Jim prepared them with butter and olive oil and salt.
At the table, we ate them with a bit of Chuck’s hunting cabin blackberry wine 2007–fruity yet dry; it snuck up on us quick. And the morels, so earthy and rich, so creamy, I went to bed with the fullest of bellies, though I would have loved a dollop of creme fraiche.