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Food

Mushrooms & Truffles

Autumn harvest

There are some 150 different varieties of mushrooms in Burgundy, found in the forest of the Morvan and the limestone areas near Vézelay, in the Puisaye, Othe forest and the Châtillonais. Truffles too come from the Auxois near Tonnerre and the forest Is-sur-Tille, north of Dijon. Weird and wonderful, some are delicious, some, deadly poisonous, others hallucinogenic. But to the aficionado, it is enough to smell them and breathe the essence of ‘le terroir’, that earthy, rich and slightly nutty scent, unique to the mushroom.

Truffles from Burgundy France ©www.foodfeatures.net
Burgundy Truffle

Don’t however harvest them and cook them without consulting a specialist, as many varieties look similar and some are poisonous. You can take them (preferably with roots) to a pharmacist in Burgundy for an appraisal.You will find a great variety in season in the markets all over the region and the following vegetable shops have particularly good displays: Le Verger de l’Abbaye in Tournus; Au Verger Mâconnais, Macon; Guettard, Auxerre, and Bruno in Dijon. Here’s a taster of the varieties.

Spring

  • Chanterelle (fr. Girolle, latin Cantharellus cibarius)
    Trumpet shaped fungus with a flaring cap of deep egg yellow found May to October in acid soil in the forests
  • Morels (fr. Morille Commune, latin Morchella esculenta)
    Found in spring near Vézelay where there is limestone soil. Dark brown, with conical cap pitted with thick honey-combed cavities. Must be well-cooked. Available in dried form.

Summer

  • CEP (fr.Cèpe de Bordeaux, latin Boletus edulis)
    Found in summer and autumn. Ideal with wild boar or venison
  • BAY BOLETUS (fr. Bolet bai, latin Boletus badius)
    In summer and autumn you will find clusters near oak, beech and coniferous trees onpoor,acid, sandy or loamy soil.
  • LECCINUM REFUM (fr. Bolet orange, latin Leccinum aurantiacum)
    Orange capped mushroom with tall cream stem specked in light brown. Found in woodlandon moderately rich sandy and loamy soil.

Autumn

  • FIELD MUSHROOM (fr.Agaric des prés, latin Agaricus campestris)
    The most common mushroom now heavily cultivated and available in shops throughout the year.
  • SHAGGY INK CAP (fr. Coprin chevelu, latin Coprinus comatus)
    In groups in rich soil with a bell shaped cap.
  • COMMON INK CAP(fr. Coprin noir d'encre, latin Coprinus atramentarius)
    In clusters in beech and oak woods on roots and stumps. Cap less elongated than shaggyink cap.
  • HONEY FUNGUS (fr. Armillaire couleur de miel, latin Armillaria mellea)
    Grows on tree trunks in clusters. Varies in size and has long stalks.
  • Saffron Milk Cap (fr.Lactaire Délicieux, latin Lactarius deliciosus)
    Found in pine woods in October and November. The Lactaire family is extensive. When damaged they exude a milk.
  • Horn of Plenty (fr. Trompette-des-morts, latin Craterellus cornucopioides)
    Despite their French name they are not poisonous but delicious.
    Horns of death, dark brown and shaped like an elongated horn.
  • Hedgehog Fungus (fr.pied-de-mouton, latin Hydnum repandum)
    Flattened funnel shape, cream, apricot to mustard-yellow or ochre colour.

Winter

  • Truffle (fr. Truffe de Bourgogne, Tuber uncinatum )
    Known as ‘le diamant noire’ this expensive delicacy is found underground particularly
    around Chablis and Tonnerre, and in the Forêt Is-sur-Tille, north of Dijon from September to January.
    For a truffle tasting tour see Burgundy on a Plate.
  • Oyster Mushroom (fr.Pleurote en forme d’huître, latin Pleurotus ostreatus)
    Found in November and December on the trunks of trees and branches of poplar, beech, willow and birch.

Dining out on mushrooms

Francis Salamolard is famous in Burgundy for his enthusiasm over mushrooms.
At the Auberge de l’Atre each autumn he organizes an exhibition, tastings and mushroom picking, plus of course serving them in his reknowned restaurant.

Chef Francis Salamolard’s Guide to Cooking the Perfect Mushroom

Most people put a knob of butter in a pan with the mushrooms and let them stew a long time. This is not only sacrilege but also the best way to dehydrate them so that they absorb the fat and lose their flavour.’ To cook the perfect mushroom and cep, here is the chef’s advice: First rinse the mushrooms in a bowl of water to which a little lemon juice has been added. Cut into thin strips and put in a hot pan without any oil or butter for two minutes. This lets them sweat but not dehydrate. Remove the juices. Only then should you put in a knob of butter, salt and pepper and freshly chopped parsley, and cook for a couple of minutes.For ceps it is different, you cook them twice. Dry them but do not wash them. Simply cook them for two and a half minutes in a very hot pan with a little virgen olive oil. When you are ready to serve them, heat again briefly.

See: L’Auberge de l’Atre