Fig.1. Les Jardin Sauvage at The Jean Talon Market.
Fig.2. A large variety of mushrooms and a few other surprise
Some foragers I’m acquainted with have informed me that this is a great year for wild mushrooms, especially with the cool damp mornings of late.
Mushrooms are fungus, which is a word that carries a somewhat bad connotation, especially when one thinks of feet. People who love fungus, and like foraging for them, are called, Mycophagists, which is also a funny word if only because it sounds like it has nothing to do with mushrooms.
For the best selection of wild mushrooms in Montreal, I go to Les Jardin Sauvages in the Jean Talon Market. I’m always amazed at the selection, and owner Francois Brouillard will be more than happy to regale stories of his farm and discuss fungus with anyone who will listen. Les Jardin’s porcinis are fat fungus this year, and very flavorful. The most interesting specimen however, is hands down a mushroom called Vesse du loup. It resembles a football size marshmallow, white on the inside and light as a feather. I was told that this mushroom need simply be pan fried on both sides, and drizzled with a little olive oil and vinegar.
Mushrooms are a lot like women in the morning, scary in appearance, but once you clean them and dress them up a little, they become things of beauty. Of course, it also depends on the woman, and the mushroom. All that to say, don’t be scared of how they look.
Fig.3. Porcini, chanterelle, and vesse du loup, ready to go into an omelet.
Wild Mushroom Frittata
Serves 3 to 4
Fig.4. Wild mushroom frittata.
This omelet is on the plain side purposely so you can properly taste the mushrooms. Adding Parmesan or olives will take away from the fungal flavor. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel and never under running water; and those small worms sometimes found in fresh porcinis will not harm you, look at them as protein.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup porcini mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 cup chanterelle (or any mushroom or your choice)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick pan set over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until wilted, about 8 minutes. In a medium bowl, whip all of the eggs together until combined and just frothy. Pour the egg mixture evenly to the pan (make sure the pan is not dry, if it is, add a bit more olive oil.) Lower the heat to medium low, sprinkle with parsley, and cook until the frittata sets. Flip the frittata around and cook the other side, unless you like your omelets slightly runny like I do, then don’t flip it.
Fig.5. Biggest mushroom I've ever seen, vesse du loup.