Bring On The Fungi. Celebrate National Mushroom Month At Prairie Grass Cafe In Northbrook

Mushroom enthusiasts look forward to this time of year. September brings us National Mushroom Month. You can thank the Mushroom Growers Council for helping to popularize this fungus. The month-long celebration was established in 1992 and there's been no looking back.

Sarah Stegner and George Bumbaris, chef/partners at Prairie Grass Cafe (601 Skokie Blvd., Northbrook, 847-205-4433) have a full special menu planned to celebrate. "We buy our button, Portobello and Shitake mushrooms from farmer Eric Rose of River Valley Ranch in Burlington, Wisconsin, as they are a Certified Organic Farm and the largest and oldest mushroom farm in the Midwest," Sarah says. "All crops are grown without pesticides or chemicals. We connected with them through the Green City Market."

Prairie Grass Cafe has been a popular spot for mushroom dishes for years. They use more than 100 pounds of mushrooms a week. "Mushrooms provide rich earthy flavors that are intense and always so fresh," she said.

In addition to using them in sauces and stocks, Prairie Grass Cafe is featuring an amazing mushroom soup ($5.50) as a weekly special this September. The Chefs also recommend the sauteed button mushrooms with red wine sauce to accompany steak dishes as a side ($6). Customer favorites include the Shitake mushrooms marinated with sesame soy sauce, that accompany the Ahi Tuna, seared rare with baby bok choy, shitake mushroom and spicy sesame soy sauce ($32), and Portobello mushrooms sauteed to accompany the Sauteed Lake Superior Whitefish ($21).

Prairie Grass Cafe's brunch menu features the popular Portobello Mushroom Benedict with two poached eggs over panko crusted Portobello mushrooms, sauteed spinach and lemon Hollandaise ($12.50) available Saturdays and Sundays only; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Prairie Grass Cafe isn't alone in their use of mushrooms. Last year, more than 900 million pounds of mushrooms were grown in the United States, with sales exceeding $1 billion.

Stop by Prairie Grass Cafe this month and enjoy one of your favorites. Call (847-205-4433) to secure for a reservation for National Mushroom Month!

About River Valley Ranch
River Valley Ranch is the oldest mushroom farm in the Midwest. Bill Rose founded it in 1976 with a sizable goal: he wanted to produce the finest fresh mushrooms for the local market. Son, Eric, joined the operation in 1977, and learned the art of growing mushrooms commercially from his dad. River Valley Ranch still produces fine fresh mushrooms, and also grows other produce, including 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 10 varieties of potatoes, a dozen types of peppers, 10 varieties of onions, asparagus, spinach, Winter squash and more. All crops are grown without pesticides or chemicals. Since 1997, River Valley Kitchens, the farm's licensed processing kitchen, has produced pickled mushrooms and more than 25 shelf-stable products. All preserved foods are made in small batches and hand packed. The farm's motto is "Quality, freshness, and lots of Love"


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