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Mushroom Foraging at Long Beach Lodge Resort, Tofino

Mushroom foraging in Tofino with Chef Ian Riddick is best in the Fall when chanterelle and porcini mushrooms are plentiful.


Ian Riddick is the Executive Chef & Director of Food & Beverage at Long Beach Lodge Resort
. Ian will be sharing all of the mushroom recipes mentioned in this blog over the next few months. And be sure to check in regularly throughout the year to source all his shared seasonal recipes.



A Walk in the Woods...

mushroom foraging Vancouver Island   Last week in anticipation of the Raincoast Education Society’s mushroom foraging weekend, I found myself with two hours of daylight left on my way home from Long Beach Lodge Resort. Being the good Boy Scout, I was prepared: a basket, compass and mushroom knife at the ready.

Fall is a busy time of year on the West Coast. The wood shed is fulfilled while garden beds, planters and gutters are cleaned so they are ready for the first heavy rains of the season. Despite these demands, I can always find free time when I feel like a good pick is on!

I found my first chanterelle on July 13th this year.

I know this because I keep a log book with maps, photos and picking coordinates.

The weeks leading up to my early-October pick cooled down and the fog bank added just enough moisture to really wake up the mushrooms. I had a strong feeling that my “honey hole” (yes, I name some of my foraging spots) was going to be flush with chanterelles. I hadn’t picked the honey hole since July, have never seen anyone else in this spot and, most importantly, I have never seen cut stems or any other evidence of competing pickers.

Foraging for wild food is something I like to do with others but to be honest, foraging gives me a chance to get out alone, stretch my legs and enjoy Tofino’s prolific and robust environment and return with forest treasures and delicacies I can then cook with.

This pick was dedicated to doing a mental walk-through of the cooking demonstration I was doing for “Mushrooms of the West Coast” the Raincoast Education Society’s field course to be held that Thanksgiving weekend. The course is one of many field study sessions offered by the Raincoast Education Society and I was delighted to get a chance to cook locally foraged mushrooms for the 24 participants.

Now, back to the pick:

As I mentioned earlier, I found chanterelles in the honey hole in July. Three months of moisture, cooler temperatures and mushroom magic and the October pick was epic! I was able to “high grade” and just pick those perfect chanterelles with caps the size of silver dollars. I planned to use these in a simple fridge pickle recipe (something I have been playing with for a while) with the field course group.

mushroom foraging Tofino
But as I was picking I was finding lots of mushrooms that were not “sexy big” and overgrown - these needed to be really cleaned and required a different preparation. I decided to bring some back and work on my mushroom pate recipe. This recipe is great with the broken pieces and larger mushrooms that do cook evenly due to their size variations. It was getting dark and I was feeling good with my harvest and preparations, but I felt like I needed one more recipe to fill out the class.

As I was heading back to my car (which I park one kilometre from my honey hole to keep others off my trail) I found the crown jewels of the pick: three perfect King Bolete - AKA porcini mushrooms - no more than 20 feet from my car. I get excited every time I find King Boletes, but often I am ultimately disappointed once I cut them open and find that the bugs have beat me to it. Often, while the mushroom looks prefect as you approach, you are met with disappointment when you realize that it has already been another creature’s meal.

This time was different.

The flesh of the porcini mushrooms were firm and the earthy aroma of this king of the forest intoxicating. I let out a “yahoo” (yes, even while alone) and packed my bounty home.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto...

Ingredients:
  • 8 cups mushroom stock
  • 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 lb fresh porcini, roughly chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup (or more) sweet peas
  • salt and pepper, to taste
mushroom foraging Pacific Rim
  Preparation:
  1. Soak dried mushrooms in 1 litre of cold water overnight in the fridge as your stock.
     
  2. Warm stock just below simmer in a pot on stove top.
     
  3. In a large pan suitable for risotto, sauté onions, garlic, and fresh porcini in olive oil for several minutes over medium-high heat until mushrooms begin to brown ever so slightly, stirring regularly. Season the mixture with a few grindings of salt and pepper at this point.
     
  4.  De-glaze with white wine. When liquid has nearly bubbled off, add rice and stir well, coating thoroughly. Allow rice to cook until slightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.
     
  5. Add 4 to 5 ladleful’s of stock to pan, stirring. Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to add a ladle or two of warm stock as the liquid is absorbed, stirring regularly, about 15-20 minutes.
     
  6. Risotto is nearly done when creamy yet al dente and just slightly crunchy inside. Now stir in the butter, cream, and half the parmesan along with a couple more ladles of stock, then mix in the peas, and cover for a few minutes.

Serve with remaining parmesan as a garnish.
Serves 4
 

For me, porcini risotto is the right way to experience these marvelous mushrooms You can use other mushrooms and you can go to the store and buy many other types. But I get far more joy sharing the taste with a story, as did the guests at this year’s field study!

Full baskets,

Ian

 





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