Sunday, 21 September 2008
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Part of Carter's birthday present this year was a guided mushroom foray in Hampstead Heath. Thankfully it was one of those rare days this summer where it wasn't raining which made it all the more enjoyable.
We rocked up at the meeting spot where our guide mushroom expert Andy Overall gave us a crash course on mushroom spotting that covered the different mushroom families, the toxic ones and most importantly, the edible ones.
Being early in the season, we came across more used condoms than mushrooms (I wonder if this is the exact spot where George Michael was busted cruising?) but it was incredibly relaxing strolling through the woods with nothing on my mind other than seeking out little mycological treasures. It was like chilled-out easter egg hunt for adults.
We became very familiar with the inedible Earthball that was in abundance, looks like a mini puffball but has the aromatic qualities of the inside of a brand new Tupperware container. It was quite a thrill to find a mushroom you could actually eat - our best finds were the Hare's Ears that Carters found in the bushes...
and these Amethyst Deceivers...
By late morning our little basket was filled with oyster mushrooms, hare's ears and boletus. They were mostly found by other peeps in our group who were kind enough to share with us, this dude below really hit the motherload and the end of the walk when he discovered all these chicken of the woods mushrooms hanging out at the base of a massive tree.
The next morning, I gave the mushrooms a quick rinse (I know you're not supposed to...but I couldn't help thinking about George Michael) pan-fried them with lots of salt and pepper and enjoyed them on toast. They were absolutely amazing - you could taste the different flavours of each mushroom and differentiate the textures. The hare's ears were crunchy, the Boletus has a sweet flavour and the chicken of the woods had a, well, chicken-like texture with an ancient woody earthy taste.
We are now officially obsessed with all things mushroom. They are free, fun to pick and delicious but you gotta know your shit.