Many more Chanterelles to find

November 4th, 2007


Here in the Northwest, Chanterelles fruit from mid-August thru the end of November at least. Sometimes, if the weather is mild, you can find them right around Christmas time as well. In my experience, they are very abundant even close to Seattle. Below is a link to a video where I locally pick a perfectly shaped Chanterelle.

Go out there and have fun!!!


October 21st, 2007

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Chanterelles, Heavy Cream sauce and Truffle

This is one of the best season for mushroom and wine lovers. In fact, wild mushrooms are one of the most interesting products of nature to use in food and wine pairings. Their flavor, texture and complexity are generally a perfect match for some of the best and most complex wines produced around the world. The wines that pair the best with wild mushrooms are those produced with lighter and earthier grapes such as Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese.

Picking wild edible mushrooms is an activity that allows you to enjoy nature, burn calories and get yourself a wonderful and unique dinner. Be aware that you have to be 100% sure of what you are picking: this is the first rule to avoid any intossication and even death. If you are not prepared to pick wild mushrooms, the market has often a wide variety available for sale.

Today I went for a hike in search of Chanterelles and I had good luck. Back home I rinsed them thouroghly in order to remove the dirt and I prepared one the basic but most amazing pasta recipes: Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Chanterelles, Heavy Cream sauce and Truffle.

 Here is the botanical description of this mushroom:

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION:Cantharellus cibarius L.: Fries
Syst. Mycol. 1: 318. 1821.

  • Cap 3-11 cm broad, peg to vase-shaped, the disc frequently depressed but not funnelform; margin incurved, wavy, in age decurved, plane, to upturned; surface smooth or with appressed hairs, dry, yellow to golden-yellow, fading in age; flesh yellowish, thick, firm; odor faintly fruity, taste mild. 

  • Gills reduced to ridges, decurrent, forking, often cross-veined or anastomosing, colored like the cap or lighter.

  • Stipe 2-9 cm long, 0.5-3.5 cm thick, tapering to a narrowed base; surface dry, smooth, concolorous or lighter than the cap.

  • Spores 8-11 x 4-5.5 µm, elliptical, smooth; spore print pale yellow.


King Boletes

October 17th, 2007


Yes, it is Porcini season again. As you probably noticed, I am a big fan of mushrooms. I believe that it is because of their incredible olfactory qualities. If you like wine and food, you know how important smells are. Mushrooms have an amazing complexity that requires a little bit of thinking, exactly like wine. Moreover their flavor is truly unique.

King Boletes or Porcini in Italian, Céps in French and Steinpilz in German are one of the most sought after mushroom. They are fun to find, fun to look at and fun and versatile in the kitchen. These names I just mentioned are the commonly used ones for the botanical species Boletus Edulis, Boletus Phinopilus, Boletus Aereus and Boletus Aestivalis. According to the continent and country they grow in, they may have slightly different characteristics and sometimes some sister species such as Boletus Zelleri in North America.

These mushrooms are extremely important in fine cuisine and in superb food and wine pairings. They represent one of the true delicacies in Italian and French cuisine and their use is becoming very popular in several other countries as well.

In Tuscany you may have a wild boar filet with a wild Porcini red wine sauce reduction and a glass of Brunello di Montalcino.

In Latium you can order Spinach Gnocchi with Porcini and Arugula and drink a glass of Frascati.

In Veneto you can order a Polenta with wild Porcini ragout and a bottle of Amarone.

In Abruzzo you can have a dish of egg Tagliatelle with heavy cream and sautéed Porcini and a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

In Sicily you can order simple but amazing Grilled Porcini Caps with the new DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria.


Boletus edulis Fries
Syst. Mycol. 1: 392. 1821.

  • Cap 7-25 cm broad, broadly convex; surface smooth to wrinkled, dry to subviscid in wet weather; color varying from yellow-brown, buff-brown to reddish-brown; flesh thick, white, unchanging; odor and taste mild.

  • Pores very small, pallid, becoming dull yellow, finally dingy yellowish-green.

  • Stipe 7-20 cm long, 3-8 cm thick, equal to clavate, white at the base, brownish above; white reticulations especially at the apex; veil absent.
  • Spores 12-17 x 4-6 µm, smooth, fusiform to elliptical. Spore print olive-brown.



Yellow Foot Mushroom

October 13th, 2007

Yellow Foot picture

Last weekend, as usual in this period of the year, I went mushroom hunting on the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Interestingly enough, I collected for the first time in my life a mushroom fairly rare in my home region in Italy but very abudant here. The mushroom I am talking about is called Cantharellus Tubaeformis commonly known as Yellow Foot“.

This is the description of the mushroom:

Cantharellus tubaeformis Bull.: Fries Syst. Mycol. 1: 319. 1821.

Common Names: Yellow foot, Winter Chanterelle, Funnel Chanterelle

Synonyms: Cantharellus infundibuliformis, Craterellus tubaeformis

Cap 2-4 cm broad, at first convex, then depressed, sometimes hollow in the center, trumpet-shaped; margin incurved, wavy; surface dry, brown to yellowish-brown, with fine dark scales; flesh thin, yellowish-brown; odor and taste mild.

Gills buff-brown, lighter than cap, edges blunt, decurrent, widely separated, with cross-veins.

Stipe 2.5-7.0 cm long, 0.5-1.0 cm thick, buff-brown, smooth, equal, flattened to longitudinally grooved, sometimes hollow.

Scattered to clustered on soil, moss, and rotten wood in conifer woods during mid-winter.

Edible and excellent!