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I find that the brown Crimini mushrooms (which are baby Portobellos) have lots more flavor than standard white ones.

Brown Crimini mushrooms (baby Portobellos) have lots more flavor than standard white “buttons.”

Welcome back, my friends – Hope you enjoyed “National Glazed Ham Day” yesterday!

I don’t often do back-to-back posts about food holidays.

But today, I’m going to honor one of my favorite ingredients for this annual “Day of the Mushroom” celebration.

A beautiful cache of assorted mushrooms.

A beautiful Farmers Market cache of mushrooms.

I love them for their flavor – meaty, earthy, and very varied from one variety to the next – and for their versatility.

Even more, perhaps, I love the magic that mushrooms work on food to make it instantly more “wine friendly.”

Fantastic thick steak, just broiled with salt and pepper. Topped with butter-sautéed assorted mushrooms. Perfect!

Fantastic thick steak, broiled with just salt and pepper. Topped with butter-sautéed assorted mushrooms. Perfect!

Mushrooms are laden with umami – that elusive “fifth taste” (after sweet, sour, bitter and salty) that’s often defined as “savory” or “delicious.”

Foods rich in umami include meat (both fresh and cured, such as prosciutto), cheese (especially aged types such as parmigiano), seafood (oily fish and shellfish in particular), soy sauce, broths, and – yes, mushrooms.

Concentrating the flavors of mushrooms by cooking them increases their umami content many times over. I find that wines like Pinot Noir have a special affinity with umami-rich food, but other varietals can work well too.

Here I broiled up a thick steak – juicy and rare, sliced nice and fat – and served it with a full-flavored, peppery Petite Sirah.

In the photo directly above the steak, you’ll see an amazing array of mushrooms from the farmers market. All they needed was a quick wipe with damp paper towels, a rough chop and a slow sauté in sweet butter.

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We chopped the mushrooms and sautéed them with just butter and salt.

Sautéing mushrooms with onions and butter.

I decided to enjoy mine on a bed of garlic spinach.

The mixed mushrooms with garlicky spinach.

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Lots of different varieties available from Solano Mushroom Farm at my local Farmers Market.

Lots of different varieties available from Solano Mushroom Farm at my local Farmers Market.

With this fantastic hunk of meat, plus at least five kinds of mushrooms – a veritable umami bomb – nothing has to be over-thought or overworked.

Don’t smother those wonderful natural flavors with fancy sauces – just salt and pepper will be plenty. Let the wine in your glass act as your “sauce.”

The point I’d like to make here is that sometimes, when you want to highlight a really distinctive component of your meal, such as these luscious mushrooms, you can allow it to take center stage. Keep the steak itself simple – and let your wine play a less-prominent “supporting actor” background role.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Well, my friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed our Day of the Mushroom!

Until next time,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

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Want to share *your* ideas? Just scroll down to the “Comments” box, or email me at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com. I look forward to hearing from you. (And be sure to tell a friend!)

Cheers once again,
Rosina