Here’s a friendly tip: make yourself buy an exotic ingredient even if you’re not sure what you’re going to do with it.
For example, a few weeks ago I was at the Spice Station in Silverlake and I bought a little bag of white truffle salt. I bought it because after sniffing from the giant jar of it, I was like: “Whoah, that’s really potent and really smells like white truffles.” A small bag cost about $10 or so which is way less than you’d pay for an actual white truffle. And knowing that I had it, I kept my eyes open later that week at the farmer’s market for anything that might work well with it; which is how I ended up buying a bag of chanterelle mushrooms.
It’s a known fact that chefs prize chanterelles more than any other mushrooms. In one of the cookbooks that I own (I forget which one), the chef/author instructs: “If you ever see chanterelles, buy them.”
And so it was that when I first saw chanterelles at the Hollywood farmer’s market more than a week ago, I kind of freaked out. I froze. I was like, “Oh my God! I’m supposed to buy these!” But a small bag of them cost $10 and I felt scared. So I didn’t buy them, mentioned the experience on Twitter, and my followers scolded me. Chef Sara Jenkins Tweeted to me, “So easy to cook! Saute w/ butter, thyme, parsley, toss w/ penne and parmigiano! Easy!” Emboldened, I made a point to buy chanterelles the next time that I saw them; and sure enough, this past Sunday, that’s precisely what I did.