This website focuses on adventure, so it is not often that I discuss food, much less devote a whole post on a dinner; however, sometimes an adventure can be culinary in nature. This was literally true for the Eagle Ridge Resort Morel Mushroom Dinner and the experience was so awesome that I just have to share.
One of the best parts of the experience was I was joined by my mom just a couple of days before Mother’s Day. Related – A pre-Mother’s Day morel hunt at Eagle Ridge Resort
Wine and sautéed morels with a view of Lake Galena
We started out on a deck overlooking Lake Galena with wine and Executive Chef from Eagle Ridge Resort, Randy Hoppman sautéing morel mushrooms. With the beautiful view of Lake Galena, delicious pinot noir, and delicious morels made by a renowned cook made for a recipe of incredibleness right from the start. This was just the beginning.
First of all though, I need to introduce the morel mushroom. The morel mushroom is the walleye of the mushroom community. This metaphor rings true on two fronts as everyone loves to catch and eat walleyes just like people love to find and eat morels.
Morel mushrooms are only found for a couple of weeks each spring. Field & Stream magazine calls them America’s mushroom and tries to explain their popularity. They provide a couple of theories including they taste really good, are widespread, and due to only being found in the spring it gives us a reason to get outside after the winter and early spring.
Whatever the reason, there is a almost a fanatical love of the morel mushroom for those who tread off into the woods in order to search for these delicacies. On eBay, Wisconsin morels are currently selling for $40 a pound.
Morel mushroom dinner
After an hour of wine, morels, and conversation out on the deck, it was time to head indoors for the morel mushroom dinner. We walked into the dinning room, and our faces fell to the ground. The dining set up was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. The tables were filled with plants, trees, wooden carved morel mushrooms as if we were eating in a forest.
The silverware was facing up and each piece was stuck in a bed of plants as if they were stuck in the ground of an Illinois forest floor. Under each plate was more coolness as smaller likenesses of morels were found underneath as well as other plants and items found in the forest. It was quite an homage to the morel mushroom and the forest that provides us with these delicacies.
The only problem with such an outstanding arrangement is it put a lot of pressure on the Eagle Ridge Resort cooks to produce a dinner that matched the place settings. You could not have just any dinner on this table. We had all the confidence of the world in Executive Chef Randy Hoppman to deliver. He did not disappoint as the Eagle Ridge Resort Morel Mushroom Dinner was outstanding. One of the best meals I have ever had.
The dinner started with scallops. You know when a meal starts with scallops that it is going to be outstanding as usually scallops play the staring role as an entree. These scallops were prepared in morel citrus butter, morel cream reduction, and morel pepperonata. I am not sure exactly what all this is, but the scallops were absolutely delicious and it proved that anything with morels in the name are going to be pretty tasty.
The soup was next. I am not sure what was better, the presentation or the taste. It was an asparagus & hickory chicken potage crécy. The best part was the cute little morel inside the piece of camembert crostini. The soup was delicious that I cannot even describe, but my taste buds were in heaven.
The Morel Mushroom Dinner was then temporarily suspended due to a Lake Galena sunset. Several diners ran out of the room with iPhone and camera in hand to capture the gorgeous colors developing on the western horizon behind the beautifully wooded lake.
Then it was back inside for the entree and dessert. The entree was a porchetta & gnocchi featuring morel ragout and potato dumplings.
Even if you did not see the title of this post, it is obvious that the morel is the constant theme in the dinner. What about dessert you might ask. Mushrooms and dessert just don’t mix. Would there be a morel gelato, mushroom rhubarb cake, or perhaps a morel cobbler. They all sound kind pretty unappetizing.
Instead, we were treated to a pistachio rhubarb tart. It was comprised of vanilla bean gelato and strawberry chocolate tuile. Where is the morel you ask? Just see the picture above and you will understand. Nicely done Eagle Ridge Resort and hats off to Chef Randy Hoppman and the rest of the staff.
This was just the beginning of the Eagle Ridge Resort morel mushroom hunt. The next day we would be armed with a mesh bag, an Eagle Ridge cap, a walking stick and brought to a hardwood forest and let loose to try and find the elusive morel.
Since this dinner was a media event, it is not open to the public. I can attest after eating for two days at Eagle Ridge Resort that the food is amazing. This is true whether it is specially arranged for the media by the chef or purchased at one of their several dining spots. No surprise that the Resort was just rated the best in Illinois by Illinois Meetings Magazine. The price range for their cuisine is very reasonable as well compared to Chicago prices.
I was invited by the Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa to take place in the Third Annual Morel Media Hunt and provided with a complimentary stay and dining. The thoughts, opinions, photos, and love of the morel are purely my own.
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