Sunday, 10 September 2017

Coming Up Trumps

Don't worry, this post is not about Donald Trump, he's not worthy of any thought or time. No, this is about something far more intelligent than the likes of him.  It's a post about our most recent wild mushroom find.

Yesterday we had the pleasure of meeting up with old friends (and one new arrival) for lunch at The Cornish Vegan, which was lovely, as always.  One of these friends, Paul, had just returned from a liveaboard diving trip to the Maldives and was keen to regale us with his watery tales.  However after the final slice of cake had been sunk, and the final cup of tea had been drunk, we set him firmly back onto solid ground by dragging him around some Cornish woodland searching for wild mushrooms.

Actually, we didn't need to drag him at all.  As a confirmed dog lover, and lover of wild places, he was only too keen to get out there and sniff out the fungi, with Scooby sharing all her 'mushroom hound' tricks with him.  They made a great team, and were soon sniffing out or spotting mushrooms left, right, and centre.  Unfortunately none of them were of the edible variety, until that is, after some thirty or so minutes of searching, Paul called us over to a few small fungi lurking under a fallen pine branch.  I couldn't believe my eyes, or his luck. 

On his first outing with us, Paul had quite literally 'come up trumps' by finding a patch of Trumpet Chanterelles.  I was 95% sure that is what they were anyway, and the guidebooks soon confirmed this.  Full credit to Paul, Fungi Forays by Daniel Butler states that "finding a patch is a red-letter day and a tribute to a hunter's eyesight and fieldcraft".  In the past I had only ever found two dried up specimens, not worth harvesting, so Paul more than proved his worth as a mushroom hound.  We made a mental note of the location so we'd be able to find them again, and then we widened our gaze and looked around.  What we didn't realise was that this small patch was just the outer edge of a much larger area that was carpeted with thousands of Trumpet Chanterelles!  Result!  

One of the names for this mushroom is 'Golden Legs', and there before of us was a sea of gold, as far as the eye could see in every direction.  There was no need to look any further, so we set about collecting these little golden brown wonders, and soon had a bag full.  We stopped at one bag, not wanting to be too greedy, and also wanting to leave some for other foragers, both human and otherwise.  There were certainly plenty to go around, and we will be heading back to harvest more at some point.  

We did find some other wild mushrooms also, namely some Yellow Russulas, and some Hedgehogs (past their best), but the stars of this show were the Trumpets.  Now all that remains is to come up with some recipes to make the most of this bounty.  First on the list to try is a simple tomato based curry, subtly spiced with a mild curry blend and finished with garam masala.  On our recent trip to the Forest of Dean/Wales, we found some regular Chanterelles, and they were delicious prepared this way, especially parked half way up a mountain on the edge of the Brecon Beacons with views for thirty miles in all directions.

Simple Wild Mushroom Curry

Fry a sliced onion in 1 tablespoon of oil until starting to brown.  Add 1 teaspoon of mild curry powder and continue to cook for 30 seconds.  Add a few curry leaves if you have them.  Add in your cleaned and roughly chopped wild mushrooms and sweat them down for a couple of minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of tomato puree, 1 diced carrot, a couple of diced potatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable bouillion, and enough water to just cover. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes.  Add 1 teaspoon of garam masala and cook for a further 5 minutes.  Serve with basmati rice.


*Please do not pick and consume wild mushrooms if you are in any way unsure about their identity.  The consumption of some wild mushrooms can be fatal.

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