Toadstools and fairies

Has anyone else noticed how many mushrooms are out there these days? 

With all this rain, they are popping up everywhere. I could swear I’ve heard sounds in the night too, like the fairies are partying up a storm – perhaps literally.

It is said that fairies dancing in their circles at night is what causes those rings of mushrooms we see in the grass. Autumn is a magical season.

It takes me a while to get over the end of summer, but eventually I get the hang of it. Once one resigns oneself to the cool, crisp days of the season, the beauty of its experiences reveals itself.

I love the smell of fairy dust early in the morning, and the light that seems to come from inside the pears waiting to be picked out of the trees. The best part though, is eating the food of fall. 

Mushrooms are fun to spot in the grass, but they are even more fun to sample on the plate. I have been a fan of these umami-rich morsels forever; even as a kid I loved mushrooms in shepherd’s pie and spaghetti sauce.

But they are good for so much more. 

I know everyone is not a fan, between the spongy texture and earthy flavour. I could try to make my case by channelling the magic of the fairies, but I realize this doesn’t change the taste.

In that case you could just admire their shapes.

 We recently attended a dinner that was all about mushrooms – wild mushrooms. There were fungi of all shapes and sizes on the table and in the dishes prepared. The Fungus Farm in Summerland grows 14 different varieties of gourmet mushrooms on their farm, and they partnered with three chefs to host a long table dinner.

This was a feast like no other, with all manner of local fare from local farms as well as seafood brought by the coastal chef who was there. 

I don’t know if it was the magic of the season, but these guys were amazingly creative.

  • They pickled mushrooms.
  • They combined mushrooms with marinated octopus in a pie.
  • Mushrooms were added to sauce and stuffing.

They had even made a wood-fired oven in the shape of a mushroom, using it to make mushroom pizzas and roast mushrooms with potatoes and other root vegetables.

The grand finale was a dessert that featured white pumpkin and chanterelle custard, coffee and pine mushroom mousse and an almond and porcini macaron on top. It was delicious and beautiful.

Now, everyone isn’t a crazy foodie like me, and we can’t always get out to an event to enjoy gourmet food. But if you’re a fan of mushrooms among your fall flavours, you can stop at the booth of a forager at one of the farmer’s markets and chat with them.

Scott Moran is usually at the Kelowna farmer’s market, and Brian Callow from What the Fungus is often at the market in Penticton. 

I will make a firm statement here:

Do NOT pick any wild mushrooms unless you have learned about them and know well what kind you are picking.

Many of them are delicious, but there are tens of thousands of kinds out there.

Some just taste bad; others will make you sick and some can cause violent reactions. Especially if you are in the forest with children, be careful.

One of the poisonous mushrooms is the red-capped toadstool with white spots you often see in fairy tale illustrations – amanita muscaria can make you quite ill if eaten raw.

Today, the annual Mushroom Festival is on at Sandhill Winery in Kelowna. Tickets are available at the door if you’re reading this on the day – maybe I’ll see you there.

If you’re someone who only likes to look at mushrooms, you could tag along to the festival and sample the wine, or perhaps you’d rather just wander the fields and watch for fairies.

Either way, you can still be touched by the magic of the season. 

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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