Is there any food more autumnal than mushrooms?
Instantly transporting you to a woodland full of burnt leaves and crisp mornings, their rich savoury flavour is one you either love or hate.
Luckily mushrooms are one of my favourite foods, so when chef and food writer Liz O’Keefe invited me to her pop-up supper club at Café from Crisis London, Aldgate, I was super excited.
The seven-course mushroom tasting menu promised to highlight the joys of seasonal eating, so who else better than my fellow mushroom loving cousin Rachael to accompany me?
The evening started with a tango apple and blackcurrant aperitif. The apples are a new variety being trailed on Loddington Farm in Kent and were freshly picked that morning. Their sweetness paired well with the sharp blackcurrants and it was a refreshing sip filled with British hedgerow flavours.
We were seated on a table with a fellow food blogger and her husband-to-be. We spent the evening exchanging family stories, laughing and drinking a few bottles of wine in the relaxed atmosphere. The amuse bouche of mushroom spaghetti was sprinkled with garlic flowers and pine nuts, making it a tasty single bite with a difference.
Our first course sparked conversation throughout the venue as it was an interactive tasting platter of wild mushrooms from The Mushroom Man (real name Michael Hyams).
Featuring a variety including porcini, girolle, saffron milk cap and king oyster my cousin and I both tried one each, comparing opinions with each other and the rest of the table. The mushrooms were served with nutmeg, pink peppercorns, black truffle, confit egg yolk and bread, and it was really interesting to decide which accompaniment was best for each mushroom.
I don't think I've ever though about mushrooms this much, but it was a lot of fun! In hindsight I wish an illustrated guide to each mushroom was provided as we couldn't name our most/least favourites once the dish had been cleared - it would have been nice to have taken away some mushroom knowledge from the dish.
I thoroughly enjoyed the next course of Chanterelle stew, which was a mixture of blue moon pumpkin, smoked garlic and sour cream garnished with bright purple butterfly sorrel from Westlands Wow which gave the dish a fresh lemon uplift.
Next up was a venison and wild mushroom parcel stuffed with a variety of mushrooms and served alongside nettles, Victoria blackberries and horseradish shoots. The contrast of the gamey meat to sweet sharp berries and the delicate heat of the horseradish shoots was a wonderful and unique pairing.
This was followed by big plate of warming apple custard pudding with a rich caramel sauce and edible flowers. I'm not sure if mushrooms were present in this dish (I'm going to assume not), but it was a welcome addition to the meal. The sauce was the star of the dish and it was a hearty portion that screamed 'autumn comfort food'.
Luckily the last two courses were relatively light. A plate of 'truffles' were presented to us, but not as we knew them. Goats cheese was stuffed with porcini mushrooms and blackcurrants, offering a different take on a cheese course. This was followed by sweet fruit jellies using soft fruit from grower Anthony Snell of Windmill Hill Farm (who also provided the beautifully fresh blackberries and blackcurrants).
We enjoy some fabulous food and captivating company and I would thoroughly recommend the experience. The only criticism I have was that a good pinch on salt was needed on each savoury dish, but if you're a salt addict like me you can always solve that issue by bringing your Maldon Pinch Tin.
If you'd like to attend the supper club more information on the next Mushroom in Winter event on the 24th November is available here.