I know some of you thought, “Where’s he going with this?”
Lowell-Chelmsford, that’s where. Not far a’tall. To one of the formerly (and kind-of-still) majestic historic mills, off the beaten path, surrounded by overgrowth and rotting wood platforms–stories tall and city block big! Why? ”Foraging” for mushrooms–on a perfect day for such things–a cool rainy mist greying the backdrop. Perfect, really, because we were heading indoors! And no, they are not growing out of the old, dank wood that runs prominently through these incredible, old mills. Rather, the historically textile-based brick building has leased a large area on the second floor to Fat Moon’s creator Elizabeth Almeida, mushroom grower, enthusiast-turned-supplier, as she builds a budding business (yes I did), supplying restaurants and markets with incredible, fresh picked, high quality, mushrooms–shiitakes, lions main, chestnuts, chantarelles, oysters–those which will be featured on moonstones special board and spring menu, beginning as early as this weekend! I would do Elizabeth a disservice trying to share all we learned today about mushrooms, but once recipes are in place, we will have her come share with the staff–and THEY will share the stories!
I met chefs Adam and Victor there early this morning where we were led through the bowels of this sprawling building, to where Elizabeth has built a growing room–with another on the way–as she follows her passion from home-cellar hobby to growing business now taking root a few miles from moonstones. (Yes, yes I did, again) What a thrill today’s visit was! Just hearing her enthusiasm, her ethical “investment”, her vision, the great potential. Please stay tuned for more.
While we toured Fat Moon, it made me think of the deceased Chef Robert Jean–a former friend and contributor to the Stones restaurants success–who died unexpectedly last week at just 51 years old. Chef Rob leaves behind a beautiful wife and his (3) children. Rob LOVED farms, farmers, growers, cheese makers–the artisan’s and craftspeople who, like him, LOVED what they did contributing to the beautiful world of culinary and dining excellence. Rob’s commitment to fine ingredients, earth, “God-created,” and respecting our food supply was legendary. So respected was he, that on Tuesday April 24th, Boston’s very top Chefs will be creating a multi course benefit dinner on behalf of the family that Rob has left behind. Ming Tsai, Jamie Bisonette, Ken Oringer and others will collaborate for this incredibly generous, loving testimony, hosted by Chef Jay Hajj of Mike’s City Diner–a long standing, favorite food haunt for Boston area Chefs. It will be an amazing night, incredible food and worthy tribute to a guy with the highest commitment to food, and who would have been all over those mushrooms!! Purchase Tickets Here