Our first chanterelle of 2011!

The summer solstice may not happen until tomorrow, but my summer has already begun. Sure, it’s felt like summer in Ithaca for a few weeks now, with 90-degree days and daily swims in the gorges. But for me, nothing heralds the arrival of summer like the first chanterelle, in all its fragrant, golden glory.

So, suffice it to say that I became eager to check my early chanterelle spots when Geogymn posted a comment on The Mushroom Forager saying he (or she) had found golden chanterelles in New York’s Mohawk Valley, at a similar latitude to my home in Ithaca. I knew I recognized the alias Geogymn, and soon I realized this was the venerable forager who shared stories of his almost daily morel hauls on the morels.com New York Morels & Mushrooms message board this spring. Slightly intimidated by (and perhaps just a trifle jealous of) Geogymn’s foraging prowess, it was with some trepidation that I made the drive out to my best spot for early season chanterelles.

Within minutes of stepping into the woods, a speck of yellow poking out from beneath the leaves caught my eye. Pealing back the leaves, I discovered a small colony of baby chanterelles. I awkwardly kneeled down and put my nose to the cluster, and their signature fruity aroma filled me with memories of last year’s chanterelles.

My better producing, higher spot nearby had no signs of chanterelles yet, likely due to the slightly colder microclimate. Then, descending back down to the lowlands, I found one bigger chanterelle that I couldn’t resist harvesting. Jenna and I split it into two divine morsels, which we enjoyed atop polenta tonight with snow peas and radishes from our garden.

Foragers, get out there and check your chanterelle and cinnabar-red chanterelle spots! May the chanterelle season ahead of us be long and abundant!

Northeastern ForageCast for the week of June 20, 2011