The mushroom season has officially been a GREAT one! Not that it’s over. Many summer varieties came late, some didn’t come at all, and certain autumn ones showed up early. Overall, it has been abundant and all at once - we’re in the thick of things now. The last week of August and all of September has been insane. I’ve been processing 400lb a week. Needless to say, one mushroom or another appears in every dish on my menu. In a couple of weeks, it will be 3 per dish. Some poor mushroom hater came to eat last weekend thinking he was safe, opting to visit before the mushroom event. Not an easy case, but I think I turned him around.
No records for big puffballs, but we got more than our share of mid-sized marvels- firm, white and pristine. I love giving them an eggplant treatment, frying slices up in batter or baking with herbs and olive oil. Layered in a lasagne or gratin or frittata, they perfume the whole dish. This week, I made a flan with zucchini, eggplant, sea spinach and peppers with a puffball base, all lightly binded with some egg and a dusting of parmesan that pleased. So rustic and very old school, yet beautiful and tasty. It helped that I served it with a slice of rolled lamb belly, brined, smoked and cooked sous vide then crusted, and some yellow-foot and hedgehog mushroom-tomato ketchup.
I have never seen so many Bolets à Pieds Rouges, a variety I love for desserts but worry about running out of. This year, it may very well make it into our mix, bonus. Same with the Bolets à Pieds Glabrescent. It was an awesome run for Porcini too, but the autumn ones are by far the best; in summer, they are rarely worm-free. I’ve never seen so many perfect little firm bouchons, and tall firm ones too with a long meaty tender stem (the best part when young). It is a lucky year when you can eat cepe tartare for a month straight.
It was a magnificent season for Yellow-foot chanterelles, and I think they are my new ‘coup de coeur’. So delicate, yet flavourful, pretty and delicious fresh or dried. It took me years to ‘get’ this mushroom, and I don’t see why. Initially, I wasn’t taken with the way they went limp, but now I don’t mind that, and they do retain a certain chew. It has always been my go-to to candy, so cute and tasty when raisin like or made crispy, tastes like caramilk. But it is equally dynamite in savoury dishes when you want a little mushroom enhancement without it taking over the dish, say with fish or in a soft salad..
Amanites des Césars, trompettes de la mort – both always rare and hard work, but François was rewarded albeit with much time and mileage. These mushrooms are priceless. The first so buttery soft and unique, just gently sautéed; unfortunately there are never enough to go around. The latter is definitely one of François’ favourites (mine too!); he likes to make black omelettes, quite yummy. I prefer them at dinner and like to put them up to stretch out all year – to use in our mix, to make fresh cheese with, to take a potato dish up a notch. I say who needs truffle when you have trompettes – they have a similar complex earthy, musky aroma, but less stinky, more delicious - notes of cheese, artichoke, licorice, caramel, deep and lingering.
Now, it’s Armillaires and Matsutake, Polypore Hen of the Woods occupying my fridge space and time. More pickling this week! We should have stakes in the mason jar business.
The nasty ones were everywhere - a good season for ALL shrooms!
The first signs of autumn beauties are appearing, the last flight.. Bolets jaunes, cepes des meleize, pleurotes d’automne, coprins, lepiotes, tricolomes... Hoping the fall will live up to the summer!
One more month or so of dirty fingernails, mushroom fumes and dreams..