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Live Active Cultures

Seth searches for live active cultures in Pennsylvania and finds flash floods, pearls and mushroom

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The grand finale, and the real focus of my journey, is nearby Kennett Square. This picture-postcard village is famed as the “mushroom capital of the world,” and this weekend is their 26th annual Mushroom Festival. (Imagine the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, the Central Florida Fair and Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, all in one family-friendly package.) In between the craftspeople and the carnival rides I sample mushroom stew, mushroom bisque, mushroom risotto and exquisitely rich mushroom mac & cheese from the epically unbookable restaurant Talula’s Table (though I pass on the mushroom ice cream). And since I get most of my gourmet gastronomy via television, I’m thrilled to see a live cooking demonstration by American Iron Chef Jose Garces and to meet recent MasterChef champion Jennifer Behm.

Of course, Orlando has its own mushroom connection: the paper faux-fungus installations of local artist Doug Rhodehamel. So I simply had to sneak in several dozen of his creations and surreptitiously plant them around the festival, because no matter where I go, I like to leave a little Florida sunshinebehind.

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