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Out to Eat: Niagara Mushrooms offers North Tonawanda shoppers fresh fungus

After a career as a drywall finisher, Anthony DiFranco was looking for something to keep him busy when someone suggested mushrooms.

After doing six months of research, DiFranco took a gamble and bought some mushroom spores by mail order. “We grew all these mushrooms, so we started giving them away to all our friends and family. They just kept growing. So we decided to try the farmers’ market, and we sold out.”

With help from his wife, Annette, and other family members, DiFranco started growing shrooms for sale: white buttons, crimini, portabella, oyster and shiitake.

“We just wanted a new challenge to keep us busy,” he said. That it does, especially on Saturday mornings, when DiFranco displays his wares at the Niagara Mushrooms (628-6587) booth at the North Tonawanda Farmers’ Market.

White buttons, criminis and portabellas (mature criminis), go for about $5 a pound. Clusters of dove-gray oyster mushrooms are $10 a pound, and shiitakes are $12. “On a good market day we’ll sell 50 to 100 pounds,” he said.

DiFranco likes eating mushrooms, especially shiitakes sauteed in butter and olive oil, with garlic and zucchini, by itself or over spaghetti.

People tell DiFranco they come to the market just for his mushrooms, he said.

“Nobody’s ever seen a vendor selling mushrooms grown in Niagara County, and they’re pretty amazed,” DiFranco. “They’re very fresh, and the response from people is excellent – we’ve sold out every time.”


Foodie find:

Taste of East Aurora.

More than 25 East Aurora restaurants offer their specialties from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday along Main Street, East Aurora. Call 652-8444.