WHERE TO EAT WILD MUSHROOMS

Gwent: every weekend, dozens of kilos of the king of mushrooms - known variously as Boletus edulis, ceps, porcini - arrive at the kitchen door of the Walnut Tree Inn, Llandewi Skirrid, near Abergavenny (01873- 852797). Picked by local Poles, these are shipped on to London; the Walnut Tree is already full to brimming with mushrooms picked by the proprietors, Ann and Franco Taruschio. It will take many generations before English cooks match Mr Taruschio's handling of porcini. They are fired and served with bracing gremolata on grilled polenta, they go into melting lasagne with ham, oodles of rich bechamel, parmesan and wildly generous portions of truffles. They are made into the richest of soups. Open lunch and dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Approximately pounds 30 per person. Cash and cheques only.

Hampshire: Le Poussin, The Courtyard, Brookley Road, Brockenhurst (01590- 623063) is at the dainty end of the restaurant market. That said, Alexander Aitken, the chef and co-proprietor, has a healthy wild streak: he is a first-class forager for mushrooms. Given the weather - dry summer, wet autumn, short warm spell - there should be plenty of porcini showing up in his sauces for excellent home-made pasta. Approximately pounds 30-pounds 40. Open lunch Wednesday-Sunday, dinner Wednesday-Saturday. Access, Visa.

London: It is a Clerkenwell Italian who runs the Alba, 107 Whitecross Street, EC1 (0171-588 1798), but the feel is completely Piedmontese, down to the long, narrow dimensions of the main, original dining room. If a leather-clad biker walks stiffly into the place during dinner, carrying a large parcel, it will contain the white truffles shipped each year from Italy, and brought by courier from Heathrow. The porcini are picked in England, in highly secret locations. First-class charcuterie, great risottos, good green salads and perfect dolcettos, barolos and barbarescos to wash them down. Approximately pounds 30, with another pounds 10 per person if you nod to the man with the truffle grater. Open Monday-Friday lunch and dinner. Major credit cards and Switch.

Norfolk: East Anglia is carpeted with chanterelles and porcini, but sparsely populated with people who pick them. When a maverick does hit payload, the haul usually appears simultaneously at any restaurant of note on the north coast, from Rococo in King's Lynn to the Moorings in Wells, to Morston Hall, Morston (01263-741041). The folks at Morston supplement this with regular purchases from a supplier, so the likes of mixed wild mushrooms in puff pastry will likely figure in their four-course dinner menus. These are served Lakeland style, in a single organised sitting at 8pm sharp. Open Sunday lunch, dinner nightly. Lunch pounds 14, dinner pounds 23, with wine etc approximately pounds 30-pounds 35. It accepts all the major credit cards except Diner's.

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