CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Tom Parker Bowles

PUBLISHED: 16:02 28 September 2012 | UPDATED: 22:04 21 February 2013

Tom Parker Bowles

Tom Parker Bowles

Tom talks taste - this month, mushrooms are in the spotlight...

They call it the Silent Hunt, a muted chase where sharp eyes take the place of gleaming guns. And quiet determination is preferable to dead-eyed aim. At its peak now, the fields and forests of Europe are teeming with folk in search of mushroom magic. Well, everywhere aside from Britain. Because here, with the exception of a few hardy souls, we wander past this beautiful bounty with barely a second glance, instead preferring our fungus neatly packed and risk-free, which seems a crying shame.


OK, so caution is certainly needed. And only a fool would rush in and gobble blind. Acute liver poisoning and respiratory collapse hardly make for the most civilised of dinners. But armed with a copy of any tome by Antonio Carluccio or Richard Mabey, plus a soupcon of common sense, the hunt for mushrooms turns a dreary walk into a thrill-packed stroll.


The cep (or porcini, little pig in Italian) is a mighty fine find; unassuming and portly in form, it has a firm but delicate texture and the sort of taste that other mushrooms can only envy. Fried in butter and oil over a searing heat, they need only a whisper of garlic to create a dish to thrill even the most jaded of palates.


Truffles, of course, are the Holy Grail of the mycologists mission, with a scent somewhere between the sublime and the depraved. But these are best gathered by the pros, armed with a trained pig and profound local knowledge. Anyway, in Britain, we have nothing to match the white treasure of Alba, nor the black gold of the Perigord. There are truffles here. But compared to that dynamic duo, our native varieties are also-rans. But chanterelles, all gaudy, fluted elegance, grow in abundance and work wonders with a plate of runny scrambled eggs, while the good old field mushroom has serious meaty allure.


The list of magnificent mushrooms goes on and on - wood blewit, complete with violet cap, makes fine eating, along with the horn of plenty, (or trompettes de mort), clad in funereal black. The shaggy cap is a real find too, though only to be eaten, in the words of Jane Grigson, when decidedly white and clean like a new barristers wig. There are plump puffballs bigger than footballs, horse mushrooms and hedgehogs, all begging to be picked. Soups and stews, pastas and pies, these fascinating fungi are as versatile as they are alluring. Remember to brush dirt off, rather than wash. And fry in a combination of oil and butter; this allows the fats to get hot, without burning. So get outside and join the glorious silent hunt. This is one feast made all the sweeter by being free.


MUSHROOMS ON TOAST (Serves 2)


1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for bread
25g butter
300g wild mushrooms, such as porcini or chanterelles (or button or field if no wild about)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Squeeze lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
Handful of flat-leafed parsley, roughly chopped
2 big slices of good bread
Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat until foaming. Add the mushrooms and stir, for about 2 minutes, until the juices start to bubble.


Throw in the garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and cook for another few minutes, until the mushrooms begin to colour. When soft, brown and a little shrunken, throw in the parsley and mix.


Anoint the bread with olive oil and cook on a griddle pan over a high heat until crisp and golden. Pile the mushrooms on top of the toast. The juices should soak through.


Taken from Lets Eat - Recipesfrom My Kitchen Notebook byTom Parker Bowles


Toms new book (published by Pavilion) is out now with a special price of 16.00 (normal cover price 25) including free UK p&p for Compass readers. Call 0844 576 8122 and quote reference CH1702

0 comments

More from Food & Drink

Mon, 13:09

Veganism is the latest food trend to hit the Cotswolds but it’s something we can all enjoy a bite of

Read more
Mon, 09:13

Alleviate the stress of hectic Christmas preparation and endless shopping trips with a festive afternoon tea in one of these gorgeous Cotswold settings

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

Find a fabulous gift for everyone with Whatley Manor’s monetary vouchers.

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The hotel in Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire is offering free lunch or afternoon tea for the first ten that book for December 19

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

A perfect gift where rest and relaxation is required.

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

Applications are now open for a new competition that will give people from Gloucestershire the chance to see their food and drink products or ideas appear on supermarket shelves across the county

Read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Dark and chilly winter evenings are perfect for huddling in the corner of a country pub with friends, catching up over beer and supper. The Cotswolds have cosy pubs aplenty – here are 12 of our favourite places to go...

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

The most famous Bangladeshi restaurant is celebrating an anniversary

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Amid the season of turkey and tinsel Whatley Manor are throwing in a festive curveball, an evening of lobster, fizz & fries!

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wine Wednesday’s with Vintopia of Tetbury.

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Festive a la carte menu launches in Grey’s Brasserie from 26th November.

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Whether you’re after something for an adults’ stocking filler, a little something while you slave over the turkey dinner or a tipple to enjoy with your festive party guests, we pick 9 drinks from the Cotswolds you need to try this Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

If we can continue to show our support for talented and industrious jam-makers like these, we might just pull our favourite preserve out of the sticky situation it’s supposed to be in!

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

‘If its autumn in Gloucestershire, then it must be time for Apple Day when we celebrate cider’

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search