The mushrooms at Comtesse Thérèse Bistro in Aquebogue were the talk of the town not too long ago when executive Chef Arie Pavlou happened upon 105 pounds of wild oyster mushrooms — an unusually large amount — in the woods of Riverhead and Cutchogue.
After county health department officials got word of the find in a Suffolk Times article, inspectors stopped by the bistro to make sure he wasn’t selling dishes made with the wild mushrooms, which are illegal to sell when gathered from the woods. Mr. Pavlou was in the clear, since inspectors didn’t find any mushrooms during their visit.
Mr. Pavlou, a self-proclaimed “mushroom hunter,” started searching for different species of fungi when he was 5 years old and living in Cyprus. He’s foraged mushrooms to cook with ever since.
He agreed to give the Wine Press his recipe for mushroom Brie en Croute, which is on the menu at Comtesse Therese Bistro when mushrooms — purchased or collected legally! — are on hand. He uses his hunted mushrooms for the French dish when he makes it at home, but he emphasized that both store-bought and hand-picked mushrooms work well for this warm, crustry, pastry-wrapped cheese dish.