Exeter’s Vino e Vivo chef finds giant polypore mushroom in Brentwood

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EXETER — Chef Paul Callahan has been mushroom hunting for years, but was still shocked by the size of a polypore mushroom he found in Brentwood this fall.

Callahan, the executive chef of Vino e Vivo in Exeter, took his young son and daughter for a walk past a beaver pond where he had previously seen the fungus.

“There was a stone wall next to some pine trees, and I happened to look over it and saw it,” he said. He left the mushroom there that first day. He knew from his past that the polypore was good for soups, broths and sautéing.

Chef Paul Callahan of Vino e Vivo in Exeter holds a giant polypore mushroom he recently picked, while sous chef Jon Parsons looks on.  Callahan prepared the mushroom tempura style as a special menu item at the restaurant.

“I knew it would take a little longer to get ready for me to pick, but when I went out to check it out, it had just exploded, it was huge,” he said.

Normally, a mushroom that size might not be tasty to eat because it has become bitter, he said. But when he tasted a piece, it was still good. He took it to the kitchen at Vino e Vivo and created a small plate of mushroom tempura with a tzatziki of black garlic and tomatoes.

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