I discovered the online company, Marx Foods, recently. I had the privilege of trying samples of their dried mushrooms, for which I created the recipes, Wild Mushroom Ravioli, Warm Mushroom Salad with Goats Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, and Gourmet Mushroom Risotto. This post will be updated as I make my way through the samples. This is my review of their mushrooms and my experience with their customer service. Note that I am not a professional and this review is based on my personal opinions only.
Marx Foods is an online store that sells fine foods in bulk. Until 2007, they only distributed their products to high-end restaurants. Luckily, they are now offering their restaurant quality products to everyone. They have an excellent assortment of products that range from gourmet salts and organic seeds and grains to pates, sausage and charcuterie. They even offer meats, seafood and truffles. The first rule of cooking is to use the best quality, freshest ingredients available to you. And regardless of your cooking level or taste in food, Marx Foods carries ingredients that you like and use regularly, as well as ingredients that you’ve been wanting to try. [I’m waiting for a special occasion to try their natural white truffle oil. Chef Michael Smith, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (post here), went to Italy in search of white truffles and I’ve been wanting to try them ever since.]
I received samples of their dried porcini, chanterelle, lobster, black trumpet, dried northwest mix, matsutake, and maitake mushrooms. I really appreciated the instructions that came with them – how to rehydrate dried mushrooms and more importantly, how to convert recipe measurements between fresh and dried mushrooms.
I grew up using dried shitake mushrooms. But other than that, I usually only use fresh mushrooms. These dried mushrooms came at a great time for me, because I had recently tried dried wild mushrooms for the first time (a gourmet medley from a different supplier). I found those mushrooms too tough to enjoy and was resigned to using them to make a soup. So I was curious to see if the quality of Marx Foods’ dried mushrooms would make a difference. It definitely did.
I could smell the aroma of the mushrooms through the packaging. When I opened the bags, I saw large, thick slices of mushroom. After rehydration, I was impressed with the texture of the mushrooms. The mushrooms from the other company that I tried were tough and rubbery in comparison. I was most impressed by how flavourful the soaking liquid was. The soaking liquid from the other gourmet medley wasn’t nearly as fresh or flavourful. Update: I froze the soaking liquid and eventually used it to make cream of mushroom soup (picture below). It was one of the best mushroom soups I’ve ever made and I didn’t use a single mushroom! I simply used a roux (butter, onion, flour), the soaking liquid, sea salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and heavy cream. The mushroom flavour was amazing.
Dried mushrooms are just as versatile as fresh mushrooms. I sauteed the Northwest Mix (wild morel, chanterelle, lobster, porcini and black trumpet mushrooms) for a Warm Mushroom Salad with Goats Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. The mushrooms were hearty enough for a meal. Then I used the lobster, chanterelle and porcini mushrooms for a Wild Mushroom Ravioli. I plan to try the black trumpet mushrooms in a risotto since they’re known for their aromatic quality. I will likely use the matsutake and maitake mushrooms to make a Japanese broth and/or a noodle soup.
The customer service that I received from Marx Foods was incredible. Considering this is an online business, their customer service was even better than the customer service I’ve received lately in stores. The person that I dealt with was not only personable and friendly, he was also organized and communicative. He followed up with me more than once to confirm my order, to let me know when the order had been processed, and when it had been shipped. He also answered my questions promptly. The quality of their customer service really inspires a lot of confidence, which is reassuring for those of us trying new products and ordering items online from an unfamiliar source.
Since I live in a smaller town where the lack of variety is a constant source of my frustration, I like the convenience of ordering high quality ingredients online. I discovered Marx Foods recently and had the pleasure of trying their dried mushrooms. Although I still prefer the texture of fresh mushrooms, I can definitely appreciate dried mushrooms when the fresh ones are out of season. I really like the quality of Marx Foods’ dried mushrooms and the best thing about their product is the flavourful soaking liquid that can be used to make a soup, sauce or stock. Given my experience with their customer service, I plan to order more of their products in the future (ie. their fresh oysters and white truffle oil). I definitely recommend Marx Foods and I think that they are an excellent source for gifts for any occasion (ie. housewarming, hostess gifts, and if you like putting gift baskets together like I do).