Restaurants: Business is mushrooming

Autumn is mushroom season, and the best time to find fungi on the menu. By Nikki Spencer

A few years ago we viewed strangely shaped and named fungi with suspicion; but now it seems that the public has developed quite a taste for wild mushrooms.

With the UK mushroom season in full swing, restaurants all over the country are offering everything from chanterelles, girolles and the rather frightening- sounding trompettes de la mort (so-called not because they kill you but because they look like angels' trumpets) in soups, sauces and main courses.

Watch Masterchef or any other food programme and you'll soon see that everyone uses wild mushrooms now - or so says Antonio Carluccio, who was one of the first to start the trend in Britain.

His Neal Street restaurant (right) and adjoining shop are currently decked out with displays of all sorts of varieties of wild mushrooms, including giant puffballs. These fungi are incorporated into dishes of pasta, fish, beef - everything in fact, except desserts. Although that hasn't always been the case.

"A few years ago I did pickle some chanterelles in vermouth and apricot liqueur to use as a decoration for puddings, but it was more of a gimmick than anything else," Carluccio says.

But it isn't just consuming wild mushrooms that appeals. More and more people are attracted by the thrill of the chase, with mushroom-picking days organised nearly every weekend, particularly in Scotland, Norfolk and the New Forest. Only last weekend dozens of enthusiastic amateurs turned up at the award-winning Chewton Glen Hotel for a day of foraging followed by a feast of fungi.

The hotel is limited to running just one such event each year, due to controls on mushrooming by local authorities, but even at a cool pounds 85 a head it's booked up the moment it is advertised. Business, it seems, is quite literally mushrooming.

Not everyone who appreciates mushrooms is into picking their own. John Swerdlows, chef and proprietor at Helter Skelter in Brixton, always uses wild mushrooms on his menu but prefers to get his supplies from London company Wild Harvest, which started selling mushrooms six years ago from a back room and now has a thriving business supplying hundreds of restaurants. "I find there is something about picking mushrooms yourself that makes you a bit worried about eating them," John Swerdlows reveals.

You understand what he's getting at when Joe Simonini, the deputy manager at Chewton Glen and leader of the hotel mushroom hunt, explains just what they find in the forest.

"We let people pick whatever they want, but then go through their baskets with them. There are always one or two poisonous ones in amongst them. Luckily, they are easily recognisable."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week