Taste of the wild

Heaven… I’m in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek,

When I go out mushrooming at the end of the week.

Okay it doesn’t really scan but who cares.  Look what I have

The Boss took me for my birthday on a mushrooming course run by the wonderful Chris and Rose Baxter  and Keiko from  www.tastethewild.co.uk and held at www.swintonpark.com.  No I was not overjoyed to have to get out of bed at 7.00, no more than the Dancer was delighted when I crept into her bedroom to get to my wardrobe (don’t ask) to extract my clothes which my porridge brain had forgotten to put out the night before.  But fuelled by two vast flagons of strong black tea I was ready for the off.  Even the drive down was divine, yes there was some fog, but it was pretty fog (you can tell I wasn’t driving).

When I become a famous novelist I am going to live at Swinton Park.  The Cunliffe-Lister’s don’t know this yet, but I’m sure they won’t mind.  “I thought you’d like it,” murmured the Boss.  Understatement of the year.

We were joined by one other couple and Rose, Chris and Keiko, yup that’s right three tutors to four pupils.  Beat than Eton.  Within five minutes we had several punchy looking parasols in our baskets and after that there was no stopping us.  After the Biblical weather we have had recently the sun had come out and the woods were a mycological wonderland. I can’t remember everything we found but it certainly included:

  •  Amethyst deceivers (those wonderful purple ones, who would have thought you could eat them)
  • Regular deceivers (how weird to have a name like deceiver and be edible)
  • Parasols
  • Jelly Ear
  • A couple of moth eaten boletes (I think somebody else had been there before us)
  • Puffballs
  • Stumpballs

And a wide range of inedible or downright poisonous beasties.

Chris, Rose and Keiko were superb teachers and great fun, it was like Five go mushrooming but without the ginger beer.

Back at base we went over our haul and looked at some of the finer points of mushroom identification over some canapés that had clearly been prepared in a kitchen in  Paradise.

Then it was time for lunch, all seven courses of it ….

Wild mushroom consommé before the consommé was added

And after.

Pan fried salmon on a bed of charred leek with pureed fennel and sauce vierge.

Yellison Farm Goats Cheese (Crowdie and Log) served with salt roast beets, apple jelly, watercress and pickled shallot

Pan Fried halibut with herb and almond crust,  wild mushroom chutney, almond and garlic foam and amethyst deceivers

Orange Polenta cake with orange panna cotta and lime crème fraiche

Caramel mousse with chocolate and chestnut sauce, banana jam and granola

Chocolate salted parfait, just poached pears with star anise, brambles and chocolate soil.

……. And coffee and petit fours!

John Rogers you are a weaver of spells, it surely cannot be normal to create such wonderful food (and support Liverpool FC ….. just joking!)  Here are John and the ever put upon Johnny plating up.

No, I’m not on commission, no they don’t know I have written this and yes today was one of the best days of my life.  Full stop.

And by the way, we found quite a few of of these too…


Be nice to me 😉


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