Friday, June 4, 2010.
Those morels: I just sautéed them in butter, and then salted them. I try not to use the word sublime too often, but in this case it is the mot juste. And with them a roast chicken truly worthy. I had brought it in the cooler all the way from the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market in San Francisco because I have yet to find in Montana any chicken to compare to these raised by Norman and Aimee Gunsell of Mountain Ranch Organics. The only comparable chicken I have ever tasted is the legendary blue-legged poulet de Bresse. Both walk around outside from an early age, eating what they find in the fields, both grow at least twice as slowly as supermarket chickens, and both develop a dense, chewy, sensationally flavorful flesh. And somehow the meat on a three-and-a-half-pound bird just keeps coming—maybe because a small serving seems like a big one, it’s so satisfying. Next to those sublime morels and a little potato gratin, all it wanted was a spoonful of pan juices. And a couple of glasses of '07 Bourgogne rouge.
Fact of the day from The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America: “Common Grackle, Quiscalus quiscula…Uncommon.” Well, not uncommon at Langston House. They're pockety-pocking for bugs all over the meadows, long tails bobbing, yellow eyes sharp: Unlike the robins, they dislike being watched, take to the trees when I raise my binoculars. The males have an iridescent blue mantle.
Yesterday—and despite camera in hand, and because Joe Stern, my only neighbor, and his dog were out for a walk on the other side of the flood, and this would be our first greeting of the year—I failed to take a photograph of Sweet Grass Creek sheeting across my driveway, at least a hundred yards’ width of it and moving fast. I have never seen the water this high. Every kind of limb and twig and grodu was strewn through the woods in intricate fractals, which showed that scary though it was, the creek was already falling. In fact, my friend and landlord Paul Hawks, on the phone, confirmed that after he had left in his tall four-wheel-drive pickup earlier in the afternoon, he had neglected to call to tell me that I was flooded in. At that time, he said, the water pouring over the little road was a good six inches deep. No fool, not even Tom Fool, would dare to try to swim a low-slung M3 Beamer across that.
Last evening’s crop of morels was beyond anything I could have imagined—so freshly emerged they all but glowed, literally hundreds within sight as I stood in one place under the burned cottonwoods. I gathered perhaps a pound. But they weren’t as good as they were last night, mushy, the taste imprecise; I think I didn’t let them dry long enough.