Pasta Top of the World: foraged Black Trumpet Mushrooms
This weekend was a truly spectacular almost-end to the Summer – I cannot accept that it’s almost Fall, with its moldering leaves and misty cool weather, and Winter biting at its heels. But before I devolve into bemoaning the end of warm weather and sun, I should say what I came here to say.
This weekend we were lucky enough to head to New Hampshire for my dear friend (and occasional Darby O’Shea contributor) Liz’s wedding. I’ve got much much more to say about that (stay tuned), but right now I need to tell you that Liz is so unbelievably, ridiculously, implausibly, and gloriously awesome.
And I don’t only say that because she was beautiful at her wedding, nor because she planned a gorgeous party, nor because she’s always unfailingly a good friend. No, I say it because on the day after her wedding, when she was certainly exhausted, when she was overrun with well-wishers paying respects to her and her parents at their gorgeous house, she ran off into the woods as we were about to hit the road back to Boston without announcing her reason (we did consider the possibility that she was running for the outhouse) and returned with two hands full of fresh-foraged mushrooms. To be more specific, she came bearing Black Trumpets (a.k.a. Trompettes de la mort, black chanterelles, craterellus cornucopioides), bless her heart.
Today I spent much of the day thinking about what to do with the tender little lovelies. I thought back to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I recently finished reading, and recalled that Pollan made a very simple pasta to celebrate his own foraging efforts and I decided to follow suit (despite Liz’s family’s suggestion of Omelette de la mort).
Speaking of Pollan, I remember him writing about the fierceness with which mushroomers protect their favorite hunting spots, the casualness with which they tried to brush him off when he asked about foraging spots. Reading that, I thought to myself, that’s surely against the whole point of the locavore community. Aren’t we supposed to be working together and sharing the spoils of our efforts with each other?
And the answer, I now know, is a resounding “NO.”
Because once you taste these mushrooms, you want them all (and I do mean all) to yourself. They smell faintly like truffles, with a whiff of the pine needles you have to carefully brush from the inside and out, with a whiff of mud. Not muddy, dirty, mucky mud, but spa-grade, youth-restoring, all-natural, healthy mud. The kind of mud you want to wallow in.
Anyway, I could go on and on, but I won’t. I’ll leave you to scamper off in the direction of the woods to find some of these for yourselves. Lest you live your whole life without tasting these spectacular fungi.
Pasta Top of the World
(so named by the owner of the estate from which these little beauties sprang)
- about 1 c of Black Trumpet mushrooms (carefully brushed clean of grit and pine needles, then torn or cut into small pieces)
- about 1/2 c of heavy cream
- 1 T butter
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 lb fresh pasta (I recommend fettucine)
- Start a large pot of water boiling. When water reaches rolling boil, add a good deal of salt.
- Meanwhile, melt butter with olive oil in a pan. When foamy and melted, add the shallot to the pan. Cook until beginning to brown.
- When shallot is softened and beginning to brown, add mushrooms and saute until fragrant.
- Add cream slowly, bring to a simmer and allow to reduce (to steep, really, like tea) until light brown and mushroomy. Season conservatively with salt and pepper.
- Add fresh pasta to boiling water and cook until tender (mine took about two minutes). Drain pasta and gently mix together with mushroom sauce.
- Serve with a light grating of parmesan.
- Enjoy. You may cry.