On Sunday, in the pouring, and I mean lashing, rain, I went on a mushroom foray with Andy Overall, “A fungi to be with”. From his website and e-mails, Andy seems to have a wicked sense of humour, but even that was dampened by the weather.
This wasn’t just a foray though, it was followed by a gastronomic breakfast – a feast of mushrooms as picked over the course of the year by Andy and cooked by the chefs in the Magdala pub (famous for being the location where Ruth Ellis shot her lover).
There was supposed to be about 26 of us, but about half that actually made it onto Hampstead Heath. A whole bunch decided to just stay in a cafe till the breakfast part. And another quarter or so just didn’t show – took one look out the window, I’d say, and rolled back over.
The foray itself was fascinating – Andy could spot fungi from miles off, and showed us grey funnel-caps (edible-ish – may give you a sick tummy), charcoal burners (very brittle),
wood blewits (VERY hard to spot in the undergrowth cos they’re a bluey- grey colour on top like rotting leaves),
fly agaric (actually, I spotted that one. I seemed to only spot poisonous ones),
and many more that I’ve forgotten. Memory like a sieve, me.
(Images from mushroomtable.com)
Andy’s lady love, Heather, was co-hosting and she was really charming, going round the group, putting people at their ease. She was also very knowledgeable about mushrooms, though she says she really only knows the edible ones. They had apparently had a very successful mushroom feast themselves the previous day.
I got properly soaked. My jeans were wringing wet , as were each of the 3 woolen jumpers I had on – because I found out my waterproof wasn’t. Huge luck and circumstance meant there was a change of clothes in the car waiting for me when I got back to the pub, for which I am eternally grateful. Here I am, very wet, with cheesy grin and a butter tub of nommies.
Then the feasting began!
OMG Chicken of the woods.
Just like chicken, only a mushroom. Crazy. With a hint of a lemony tang on the edge. Yuuuuuuum. There was a whole array of mushrooms to taste – and they were done in lots of different ways – thai green curry, risotto, in a pastry tart with gruyere, and of course, since this was breakfast, in scrambled eggs & lightly sautéed on their own. There were saussies and rashers too, so the carnivores didn’t feel left out. I have to admit to being so hungry by that stage that I just about ate my head off. I didn’t really savour it the way I should have – at least, not till I went back for seconds :) !
So, definitely recommend it as a morning out – I just hope you get better weather than I did!