Early September in Sweden is an enchanting time of year. The damp air and moist forests feel ripe with autumnal life and even the grassy areas in town are sprouting mushrooms. Even if they have been carved out of tree stumps.
With the sun being slow to make its mind up as it politely debated with the clouds about who should bat first, I went for a run and landed up at the Saluhallen where I almost inevitably was drawn towards a man selling chanterelles (Kantareller) for a pittance. I snaffled a bagful and grinned as I felt their weight almost drop through the bottom of the paper bag and the change jangle in my running shorts' pocket.
With my golden cargo and a loaf of honey rye sourdough I made my sweaty way home and cooked the most perfect breakfast of sautéed chanterelles on toasted sourdough topped with some creme fraiche and washed down with the best part of a whole pot of percolator coffee. All I needed to make it extra special was Cowie and a copy of the Guardian.
My weekend mushroom adventures continued on Sunday with a trip to the forest. With Alexandra's mushrooming knowledge and the advice from a day of foraging with John Wright of River Cottage HQ ringing in my ears and memories of playing mushroom roulette in Richmond Park we fearlessly tackled the mozzies and got stuck in. We found a wealth of half nibbled mushrooms snuggling into the light, sandy soil, sheltering beneath the branches of pine and birch trees.
I’m not sure what they all are, but where I’ve got an inkling I’ve included a caption. If you know what they are please let me know in a comment.
No idea what this one is. But it looked mean and evil.
This monster, we think is ideal for eating. It’s either a cep, or another sort of bolete. It was just a shame that the slugs and maggots had got there first.
And we saw these Fly Agaric by the dozen, as they flamboyantly lined the paths.
I returned home with an impressive clutch of well pored mushrooms which all seemed like they had edible potential, with the ominous exception of the black capped, long stemmed, example which resembled a grim reaper.
We were very worried about this one. It looked particularly evil.
These are called Slippery Jacks which are covered in a slimy cap which can cause indigestion. If you clean the cap the mushrooms themselves are rather good apparently. But their name is enough to put anyone off!
This one, I think, is a cep, which is called a Carl Johan in Sweden, and judging from the amount of holes must have been very tasty.
These two smelled good and when I took a small nibble didn’t taste bitter, but instead, rather impressive. And given that friends in the office and a few online experts suggested these would make for very good eating I plucked up the confidence to tuck in.
I decided to follow a recipe from Mark Hix’s new book “Hix Oyster and Chop House” and simply studded the ceps with slithers of garlic, coated them in butter and seasoning and then roasted them for 15 minutes before sprinkling with parsley and nervously tucking in.
They were absolutely delicious. Soft, tender and buttery and without question, the most mushroomy thing I’ve ever eaten. I am sure they tasted even better because there was a chance I’d identified them wrong and there was a vague possibility that this could be my last meal. If I suddenly drop down dead, please come and find me armed with whatever anti-toxins I require!
Funghi Forays - sign up for their excellent newsletters
Carl Johan on Wikipedia
The Good Food Mood Blog on chanterelles on toast
Beginners' guide to picking chanterelles in Gothenburg Daily newspaper