Monday, 1 February 2010

Have you seen the Mushroom Man?

Week 5

Yes - it's true - not all children insist on chips and turkey twizzlers. This week I discovered a three year old with a penchant for Mummy's duck pate, as well as my orecchiette and most other things that kiddies aren't supposed to like!

Fact of the week is that 80% of the world's plants require an external source for pollination and 80% of those plants use honeybees as their pollinating agent so plant some lavender to keep them happy (and hopefully stem the massive decline in their numbers).

Eating seasonally

Everyone always talks about eating fruit and vegetables in season (and preferably locally produced). But during the winter months, that's not always so easy because there aren't very many options available, and potatoes do get a bit dull after a while.

And then I noticed this week's Food of the Week which (you might have guessed from the title!) is...


I don't know much about mushrooms. In my world, mushroom are white, sometimes chestnut brown, sometimes small and wiggly and sometimes dried. The first two types always seem fairly good value. The second two are a bit more expensive and a bit mysterious which inevitably means I rarely buy them.

And then, as if by magic, the Mushroom Man appeared!

Wild mushroom are in season for only a few months of the year (mainly October to February). And those months just happen to be at the time when not much else is around. Eureka I thought until I saw all the different types and realised I had no idea which ones to choose, how to cook them and in which dishes.

So what's the difference?

Rather than go into a detailed explanation of each mushroom type, the best idea is to just go and try some. You don't need many (fortunately as they are more expensive) as wild mushrooms have much more flavour and can be mixed in with your standard whites. Always cook them rather than eat them raw and if you go and see the Mushroom Man, he'll tell you which are best for what you need.

Ones to try right now include
Wood Blewitt (taken from the old English for blue as it has a blue tinge), Chanterelles and Morels.

Best Way to Serve

Applicable to all types of wild mushrooms!
Fry wild mushrooms in some butter with lots of garlic. Add to a risotto about 5 minutes before it's cooked through for a dish that not only tastes great but looks amazing with weird and wonderful shapes.

Alternatively, do the frying bit with lots of garlic again and then add some cream or creme fraiche to make a really quick and easy pasta sauce. Serve with tagliatelle or linguine.

Where can I buy them and what's it going to do to my bank balance?

Price: £5 for 100g wild mushrooms (yes they are more expensive but lots of recipes only ask for 50g bulked up with the cheaper white or chestnut mushrooms)

The Mushroom Man is at Borough Market on Saturdays
Alternatively, if you want to cheat and have it all done for you, go to Spore Boys for a wild mushroom risotto or a legendary mushroom and cheese sandwich on Fridays at Exmouth Market (near Farringdon) or Saturdays at Broadway Market (Hackney)

Restaurant of the Week

Busaba Eathai

This week's choice is Busaba Eathai at three locations now in central London.

According to the website 'it's a Thai casual dining venue that offers a single course eating experience devised to feed you with minimal fuss' and I have to say that it is true to its word.
Set up by Alan Yau (also responsible for Hakkasan, Yauatcha, Cha Cha Moon and setting up Wagamama (which he then sold out of) and one of the people I most admire in the restaurant industry)

Why is it good?
1) Consistently tasty Thai food in a very cool environment across three great locations: Soho (Wardour Street), Oxford Street (Bird Street) and Tottenham Court Road (Store Street)
2) Very good value for money - main courses £6-£11 so medium spend
3) Quick and very good service

Try the Thai calamari with ginger and peppercorn!

Note that you can only book tables at Store Street (Tottenham Court Road). The others are walk in only so you may have to queue but it's a quick turnaround so shouldn't be for long.
Also note that you will probably share a table with other people which can be a lot of fun but you're probably better to go to Yauatcha for a cosy candlelit dinner for two!

Busaba Eathai on Urbanspoon
urbanspoon rocks


  1. The only bookings are at Store street private dining room, but not the main restaurant.