Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mushroom Hunting

We're truly getting into the Swedish swing of things and, come fall, that means mushroom hunting.  We were lucky enough to be invited by the lovely Daniel and Judyta to Tyresta National Park to get our mushroom on.

First, about the park.  It's only about 20 minutes outside of Stockholm, but it feels like you're in the middle of nowhere once you start a-wanderin'.  There was a terrible fire in the park some years ago (it basically sounds like a dumb tourist version of Mrs. O'Leary's cow) so there's a great expanse that's burned out and surreal.  Daniel and JD referred to it as the "dinosaur forest."  It was stunning.

After arriving at Tyresta, our hosts showed us what to look for, handed us baskets, and off we went!  We stuck to chanterelles, so we focused our eyes on spotting those and weeding out the impostors (not poisonous--don't worry).  Mushroom hunting is quite a zen activity.  You wander, getting lost in every little thing on the forest floor.  Sometimes it feels like you're looking at one of those "magic" 3D posters that were so infuriating popular in the '90s.  Things aren't always what they seem--until they are and you've stumbled on a "mushroom village" as we got to call them.  It's like your eyes change focus and suddenly all of these mushrooms pop out where there were none.  The little fellows seem to be quite social, huddling in patches for the most part.  Of course, there were also many loners that did not go unpicked.

We each went our own direction, sometimes staying relatively near to each other--other times, losing ourselves entirely until someone whistled or shouted for a response.  Again, zen.  We rested first for a fika with banana bread and coffee.  Then later to eat our prize meal--hokkaido pumpkin soup supplemented with the day's mushroom catch.  Noms.

And the best part?  Our gracious hosts shared their bounty with us at the end of the day.  So even these nubes went home with full baskets.

No leaning tree shall be unturned, declares B!

The season's must-have accessory: a mushroom basket.

I knew well enough not to pick the gooey bark sludge.  (Though I have eaten similar stuff in China and it's damn good.)

Our crew crossing the bridge in the birch forest.

<3 birch.="" p="">

Our chef, sautéing the mushrooms to be added to the pumpkin soup.

Delicious, delicious pumpkin soup with fresh chanterelles.

The scene from where we stopped to eat in the "dinosaur forest."

The next day, we cleaned all of the mushrooms (with a soft brush) and I got to cooking!

Baked eggs with goat's cheese and chanterelles.  Oh, and bacon on the side.

And for dinner, it was galettes with sautéed mushrooms and garlic.  Yummy!