|The lovely autumn pickings|
In late summer and early autumn I venture on a mushroom hunt, 'the quiet hunt' as mushroom connaseur Antonio Carluccio likes to call it. This is a habit I have acquired in the recent years after moving to Sweden. Last autumn was no exception, in fact, I have never picked such a generous bounty of mushrooms ever before. First I went hunting by myself - I drove into the countryside and headed into the woods outside Dalby, which is a village close to Lund, and walked a circle without though coming across anything edible. After this I decided on a different tactic, I drove into some random direction and stopped the car as soon as I set eyes on a familiar mushroom. Low and behold, soon enough I had found four large boletus badius mushrooms, which are good edible mushrooms, closely related to the famous Cep.
Shortly after my daughter and I went on a little walk along the road somewhere close to the center of Scania - this will not be discussed in more detail since no diligent mushroom hunter discloses the locations of his treasures! We were quite lucky, found a number of chanterelles and various kinds of boletales mushrooms. We returned to the same place - and we sure hit the jackpot! Both times we caught a whole bunch of chanterelles and some more boletales (which are all edible): cep, boletus badius, velvet bolete, orange birch bolete, and then a few bitter boletus felleus or tylopilus felleus (which all ended in the bin). This was amazing, half a day went into hunting and gathering, and then the following days were spent enjoying the fruits of that labour. I have been leafing through a few books on mushrooms - and added a new one to the collection recently - The New Mushroom book (in Swedish), which appears to be rather comprehensive.
You have to be careful when picking mushrooms, for some of them are poisonous and even lethal. Learn from others, read books and take them with you to the field. Before eating, drying and storing - identify all the mushroom. Don't pick mushrooms you don't know is a good rule to live by!
|A floral arrangement of chantarelles|
Unfortunately we became the victims of ticks - I was bitten thrice and my father was bitten at least ten times. I have to admit that it is kind of frightening to pull those wriggling ticks of your body. Then you have to be careful to scrutinise the bites a few days after. If an inflammation appears you need to consult a doctor - but it is not dangerous if you get them off in time. Don't let minor details like this discourage you from the mushroom hunt - it is well worth it!
I Love Chanterelles; Tagliatelle with Chanterelles and Truffles Served with a Sourdough Baguette – and a Few Other Recipes!
|More of the lovely chantarelles|
|A small but fragrant truffle|
First I diced a small white onion along with 3 cloves of garlic. Poured oil on a pan and heated it slowly, and then fried the onion on low temperature until it was soft and even close to sweet (takes around 15 minutes on low temperature).
|Light chicken stock|
Next I poured 300 ml of chicken stock (made from cubes), seasoned with salt&pepper, and 70 ml of cream and reduced by around a half. Shredded 50 gr of good parma cheese and mixed with the sauce, both to thicken it and of course also for the flavor!
|Ready on plate, with some crusty bread|
I then boiled some tagliatelle according to the instructions on the pack in richly salted water and when the pasta had become "al dente" I poured off the water and added the hot pasta to the sauce. I decorated with parsley and served with a sour dough baguette.
When I look at the pictures I realise I should have shredded a bit of truffle over the dish in the end. I will do better next time - if that is even possible. This dish was simply delicious - chanterelles are truly a sublime thing, deep flavor, a taste of sweetness and apricots but still earthy - a tastier mushroom is hard to find!
We had a nip of white wine with the food. Monte Ceriani Soave from 2006 which is an Italian white wine from the Veneto region, close to Venice. The wine is entirely made from Garganega grapes, which I think I was tasting for the first time. It is light yellow in the glass, condensed aroma, fruit. The taste is clear, rather dry but full of fruit and a trace of butter. The wine accompanied the meal perfectly!
|The food was so good - it deserved a close up|
Following the great mushroom harvest I felt compelled to cook dishes where the chanterelle played the central role. Here are two:
Chantarelle au pain levain
Around a tablespoon of thinly sliced red onion and a clove of garlic are fried on a pan in a little splash of extra virgin olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the chanterelles and fry for about 5-7 minutes until done. The aroma that engulfs the kitchen at this point is divine. A slice of French levain bread, which is a famous type of sour dough bread, are brushed with oil and then grilled on a fiery hot griddle until the slice has taken on the characteristic black streaks on both sides. Nothing remains but to place the bread on a plate and pour the fried mushrooms over. Bon appetit!
Flammekuche au chantarelle
We also made a German pizza, flammekueche or tarte flambée (as it is called in the French side in the Alsace region). This dish is a variation of pizza which is well known on the border of Germany and France. You make a traditional pizza dough, flatten it out very thinly and smear on top a layer of good creme fraiche, and sprinkle a few strips of caramelised onion and of course - the star ingredient - chanterelles. Bake at 350 degrees on the BBQ for about 5 minutes until the bottom is crunchy! Bon appetit!