Friday, 22 May 2009

St George's mushrooms - patriotic fungi

Wild mushrooms are not confined to the cold, damp days of autumn. A spring flush of fungi is happening around now, which includes the St George’s mushroom whose season is supposed to start on the patron saint of England’s day (April 23), the morel and the first wild oyster mushrooms.

St George’s mushrooms have a firm texture, a moreish mealy smell and an earthy, wood smoke flavour. The French call them le vrai mouserron, “the true mushroom”. They grow in a wide variety of habitats, from woodland to pasture, but are often found on chalk grassland. Forage for them or try upmarket food halls such as those at John Lewis and Harvey Nichols.

The less fuss the better when cooking fungi. Wash, shake and put in the frying pan with a little butter, some wet garlic, fresh herbs and a pinch of sea salt to bring out their full flavour. Serve on sourdough toast, partner with asparagus in an omelette or chicken in a casserole.

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