The mushroom season is drawing to a close for me. I live in Donegal, North West Ireland – once November is upon me the foraging bounties turn into great walks & rambles through forests with very little wild mushrooms in my basket. The drop in temperature appears to put pay to the mushroom bounty.
I have been collecting/hunting/foraging wild mushrooms since 1989 – my first foray was in the West Country, England. Up a hillside & down a valley near the beautiful Bradford on Avon & not far from Combe Grove – cut Cotswold stone buildings & pristine rolling English countryside. Beautiful middle England! On that first trip we collected shaggy ink caps. The chief identifier of wild mushrooms that day is now my wife! (Isabelle a French lady from the Haute Savoie region of France). Our mushroom forage yielded enough for a meal of mushrooms on toast.
I started cooking with wild mushrooms in professional kitchens whilst working with Gary Rhodes & latterly Paul Flynn (Nico Ladenis). In these 1 & 2 Michelin starred restaurants we used wild mushrooms fresh, dried & frozen. Our suppliers sourced from Scotland, England & France. Dried Girolles partnered with garlic & sherry to make a fabulous cream & jus based sauce to serve with rack of lamb. Fresh Girolles served with lobster, spinach & homemade linguine. Fresh pied de mouton with roast guinea fowl. Frozen French ceps trimmed, diced, sauté served on top of lobster ravioli with a decadent truffle beurre blanc.
I don’t profess to be a wild mushroom expert. The Latin or scientific termonogly used to identify wild mushrooms is an area I don’t “hang out in”. I leave this to the well read & specialist knowledgeable fungi people out there (whom I have enormous admiration & respect for)
In the next edition of this blog I want to talk you through a combination of seasons & a year of wild mushroom picking in Ireland (Wicklow & Donegal). I will leave you with these
- I pick mushrooms on public land & private land (ask permission – its good manners, keep people on side).
- I pick mushrooms on managed woodlands & native forest, a mixture of both broadleaf & pine forest. I haven’t had much success in open fields & meadows – not since county Wicklow
- You can find mushrooms growing pretty much any where – whilst living in London we used to go foraging for ceps, shaggy ink caps & pied blue in Richmond Park
- I don’t forage near foot paths or trails – i.e. where my canine friends like to mark
- Be careful where you forage & respectful of the local environment
- Don’t be greedy only forage what you can use or preserve
- Don’t forage wild mushrooms – unless you have an expert whom can identify what eats well or what mushrooms can lead to renal failure & potential mortality
- Purchase a good guide book to assist in the identification of mushrooms & toadstools
- Jane Grigsons book “ The Mushroom Feast” – illustrations, recipes & prose
*This information above is for illustrative & informative purposes – its upto you as how you might use this information.
A briefing paper entitled “Reducing State Imposed Costs on the Tourism Industry:The Case for Better Regulation” by Failte Ireland makes for a great insight into regulation across the tourism sector. In general, tourism businesses are required to interact with at least 24 different public, statutory and other bodies in operating their business. The study’s findings were based on in-depth qualitative case studies with 20 businesses across the breath of the tourism industry. The case study group comprised off the following businesses:
· Five hotels and two hotel chains
· Four restaurants
· Three coach operators
· Three firms from the activities and attractions sector
· Two self-catering group schemes
· One B&B
· One language school and one large commercial hostel.
Read the full briefing paper – Failte Ireland Paper
The West & The North West of Ireland
Artisan brewers & local produce make a great marriage. A great food marriage that is. As a young chef working in London I learnt about the true values of food marriages. This revelation on flavours & ingredient parings started for me with Nico Ladenis of Chez Nico. This was a 2 Michelin star restaurant with all the accolades & a fantastic reputation. There were four Irish lads that formed about a quarter of the kitchen team which was led by Paul Flynn. Nico had written book ” My Gastronomy”. One of the key things that stuck in my mind from the book was how the marriage of two food ingredients work together ie scallops & garlic. Simple flavours with no messing around. That was London in the early 1990’s In Ireland in 2012 putting food marriage on the menus of restaurants, bars, hotels in the west & north west is alive & kicking in the Oarsman Restaurant & Harry’s . I wonder what Nico would have made of my food marriage of Galway Hooker Ale & Fresh Donegal Crab