I went to the most interesting supperclub last night, where the theme was one of my favourite subjects: mushrooms! The event was hosted by Andy Overall, the fun guy behind Fungi To Be With, and his wife, Heather, at their home in London near Hampstead Heath.
Andy leads a series of walks, workshops and dinners “dedicated to connecting the Greater London public to the natural environment through the magical world of fungi”. And connect with fungi we did!
There were nine of us for dinner – a nice cozy group. Both Andy and Heather mingled with us throughout the meal and told us all about what we were eating and the fascinating types of mushrooms that featured in each dish. I really enjoyed their company, and the dynamic between the two of them: Andy is obviously the mushroom hunter-gatherer in this duo, while Heather is the chef, and a very competent one at that. The entire menu shined.
Here was the menu:
- Pumpkin and Aurea Noir Soup with Chicken of the Woods Bruschetta
- Fig, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
- Chanterelle Lasagnielle
- Risotto with a White Truffle Bechamel
- Rose, Cardamom and Pistachio Gelato with Italian Cookies
Each course kept cranking out the hits. The Chicken of the Woods Bruschetta was a revelation. Chicken of the Woods is a type of mushroom that I’ve long wanted to try, and it didn’t let me down. The mushroom is extremely firm and “meaty”; it reminded me of halloumi and was just delicious served simply on crusty bread with oil and vinegar.
It’s gone cold in the UK which made the pumpkin and mushroom soup all the more inviting. Meanwhile, the fresh fig salad offered a sweet break from mushrooms to cleanse our palette and get us ready for what was to come.
The chanterelle lasagnielle was basically a baked ramekin of pure concentrated mushroom heaven – we were all having foodgasms over this dish. And then came the most epic risotto ever, full of all kinds of exciting mushrooms: Winter Chanterelles, Hen of the Woods, Horn of the Plenty and Horse Mushrooms. This time I was wooed by the Hen of the Woods and the Horn of Plenty, both of which had real flavour and amazing texture.
There were no mushrooms in the dessert course but I was glad I’d saved room for it. Heather’s rose, cardamom and pistachio gelato was almost like an Indian kulfi. I was totally enamoured by this and hope she will share the recipe with me.
Part of why the supperclub worked so well was the atmosphere. There’s no pretence or pressure. Not all of us were mushroom geeks but it didn’t matter: Andy and Heather made us all feel totally welcome in their home, which is charmsville, by the way (as is their dog, Sophie).
If you’re at all interested in mushrooms and foraging, I definitely recommend spending some time with Andy and Heather. For more info about upcoming walks, forays and dinners, check out the website: Fungi To Be With.
Thanks to my friend Kanna for organise such a terrific dinner crew – I’m so glad I came along!