Though we are best known as intrepid gastronomic voyagers, taking our taste buds to the very corners of the globe to bring you, fortunate reader, the tastiest and most authentic delights from obscure and far-flung kingdoms, we’re also (in the same way that Clark Kent was also a brown-suit sporting hack when not moonlighting in tights and a cape) just normal workaday folk who periodically wander down to the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning and pick up some fresh, local ingredients. Yes, I know, it is almost impossible to believe, but I swear it’s true.
Having just shattered your illusions of us as glamorous, globe-trotting tyros (a reputation we have studiously sought to cultivate in this peculiar, post-modern, internet-based second-life we call WANF), let us further destroy these idols by adding that the various mushrooms we acquired at last weekend’s greenmarket were cooked quickly and simply and without any globalized pretensions. They were local and we treated them like locals.
These mushrooms were so fresh, earthy, and well, um, mushroomy, that they hardly needed any help apart from a little aromatic complement from their conventional partners in crime, garlic and parsley, and splashes respectively of fortified wine and cream. Piopini, yellow oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms had wonderful novelty value, demonstrating the mad variety of colors, shapes and textures found in the fungi family. We’d not seen piopini or lion’s mane before, and we’re fairly certain they won’t be readily available in most places, but the great thing about mushrooms is that while they may never look as good on the plate, even the regular white mushroom or slightly more exotic cremini (brown mushroom) are just as tasty as these more outlandish breeds.
We cooked the piopini quickly in olive oil, rubbed toasted bread with a clove of garlic, placing the mushrooms on it with a sprinkle of maldon salt and chive flowers. The lion’s mane mushrooms were sauted slowly in butter with garlic and finished with a good glug of Pedro Ximenez (sweet, Oloroso style sherry). And, the yellow oysters were pan fried quickly in olive oil with garlic and parsley, before they were hit up with a splash of dry vermouth and finished with a few tablespoons of heavy cream.
- 3-4 oz each of any of your favorite mushrooms, we used piopini, lion’s mane and yellow oyster
- 4-5 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- olive oil and / or butter
- several splashes of sherry, vermouth, white wine, brandy or whatever booze you have to hand
- splash of heavy cream
- salt and black pepper
- thick slices of your favorite country-style bread, toasted or grilled
Follow rough descriptions above and it’ll all turn out rather nicely.