The amazing rise of maize mushroomGourmets and chefs call...

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August 21, 1991|By Charlyne Varkonyi

The amazing rise of maize mushroom

Gourmets and chefs call it a maize mushroom or Mexican truffle. Farmers, who until recently considered the stuff a nuisance, call it corn smut.

Whatever you care to call it, this fungus that grows on corn is hot news in the food world -- from the Plaza Hotel in New York to the Harbor Court in Baltimore.

It looks like the least likely candidate for a gourmet meal -- a charcoal, mushy mass that still has some of the corn silk attached. But chefs like Michael Rork of the Harbor Court Hotel say after it's cleaned it becomes a wonderful addition to sauces, such as in his maize mushrooms and ancho pepper fruit sauce that he serves with a seafood tamale. He's even tried a maize mushroom sorbet.

Promotional materials for the product say it is a smoky-sweet mushroom that excels as a complement to vegetables, a base for sauces, a filling for meat and fish and an unforgettable

soup. The maize mushroom can be frozen as is for later use.

"It tastes like corn, but it also has a mushroom flavor," Chef Rork says. "It is unique and makes a wonderful addition to a sauce, turning it really dark."

Chef Rork gets his maize mushrooms from El Aficionado in Arlington, Va., a food wholesaler specializing in Mexican ingredients, which supplies restaurants with more than 2,000 pounds of the product annually. El Aficionado also sells to consumers. Theprice is $12 a pound plus a shipping fee. For more information, call (800) 753-2676.

The Gourmet Shop in Pikesville has gone out of business, but fancy food shoppers will be pleased to learn that soon the well-respected Sutton Place Gourmet will take its place.

The latest addition to the Sutton Place chain is targeted to open at the beginning of November, according to Ann Brody, senior vice president of Sutton Place Gourmet, Inc.

The new Baltimore County store will carry a full line of gourmet-to-go, baked goods, meat, fish, wine, beers and housewares. This will be the fifth store in the chain that until now has been concentrated in the Washington area. It will be in the Festival at Woodholme retail center at 1809 Reisterstown Road.

Delivered right to your door

The Jewish New Year -- Rosh Hashana -- is just around the corner and mail order food companies are trying to make serving holiday food as easy as possible.

Florida Smoked Fish Company, the second largest smoked fish company in the country, will promise overnight delivery of a small minimum order Tuesday through Saturday anywhere in the continental United States.

The company offers a great selection of smoked fish to break the holiday fast -- smoked Nova; smoked boneless, skinless trout fillets; smoked,peppered mackerel fillets; smoked whitefish salad; whole smoked salmon; smoked sable, etc. For more information, call (800) 654-6682 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays to order or 24 hours a day to leave a message.

Levana, New York's famous gourmet kosher restaurant that the 1991 Zagat restaurant guide describes as "luckily not like mama used to make," will ship a complete menu of take-out food for the holidays anywhere in the country.

Some of the items on the holiday menu include: venison and veal-stuffed cabbage; sauteed sweetbreads with onions and mushrooms; brisket of beef with a choice of black currant or fresh horseradish sauce; salmon filet (poached, grilled or sauteed) with a choice of fresh dill, citrus mayonnaise or sauce verte; pecan studded rice and Japanese eggplant ratatouille. Holiday orders must be placed no later than Sept. 3. Call (212) 877-8457 or FAX (212) 595-7522.

Cooking for fall

Post-Labor Day cooking subjects -- from back-to-school lunch suggestions to cooking with the ingredients of fall -- are on the latest agenda for L'Academie De Cuisine in Bethesda. Most classes last 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Gourmet Light: This demonstration class will show you how to prepare meals that are high in flavor and nutrition, but low in fat and calories; $85 for a three-part series: 7 p.m. Sept. 19 and 26 and Oct. 3.

* Back-to-School Lunch: This demonstration class features cream of broccoli with spiced shrimp, poached chicken breast rolled with spinach and Parmesan and pear and almond cream tart; noon, Sept. 20; $27.

* Fall Football Picnic: This participation class is geared to ages 9 to 14 and will provide good treats to take along on a sports outing; 9:30 a.m. Sept. 21; $18.

* Cooking for Fall: This demonstration class ranges from sesame broccoli miso soup to rice pudding; 2 p.m. Sept. 21; $27.

To register, call Dill Krech at (301) 986-9490.

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