I am finally upset enough that since my flash-free photos have wrecked a post, I will change my colours, apologize, and use the flash once in a while if I need to capture something to share with you. For this post I have used images from the restaurant’s Facebook page where mine failed.
After years of “we should really go,” 4 of us set out on a dining adventure of sorts. There’s this guy, François Brouillard, at the market who is a forager, and his wife, Nancy Hinton, is a chef. Together they have a restaurant that is open once a week, except during mushroom season, when they serve Friday – Sunday. I’m not new to traveling for food, but I never expected to drive past oil refineries and strip clubs to get to a memorable dinner.
With a few bottles of mushroom friendly wine, we arrived at Les Jardins Sauvages, perched beside a gentle waterfall. I knew we were in for a fun evening when I read the chalkboard inside the door, which had the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have yet to be discovered.” It appealed to me as a gardener and a foodie.
8 courses celebrating mushrooms. Yes, dessert too. In fact, it was the mushroom tiramisu that blew my mind. If vanilla usually rounds out the flavor of chocolate, mushroom does it too, perhaps even better. It is deep and earthy, and makes your brain kinda giggle.
The mushrooms, most of which I have never heard, were treated respectfully and playfully. Something I will never forget however, is not a fungus at all. We have all driven by them on the side of the road. Bulrushes, also known as cattails are nature’s answer to corn dogs! They taste like a cross between corn and asparagus, and have a texture that is strangely couscous-like. Very cool. You actually eat around the stick in the middle!
Here is the menu from our evening, with a few notes in brackets:
Sea scallop with wild mushrooms : Porcini mousseline (imagine Gefilte fish if it were really tasty) and Ceviche with Leaf-like Oyster and Late Fall Oyster Mushroom, Grilled Elm Oyster Mushroom, smoked pickled Hen of the Woods (too hard to describe, but delicious)
Mushroom Barley Soup : Chicken Mushroom and Beefsteak Polypore broth, Shaggy Mane meatballs (to continue the analogy, they were the best matzo balls, ever, and I may start adding ground dried cepes to mine in the future), Gypsy Mushroom
Mushroom and cattail crepe lasagna (beyond scrumptious, made with mushroom and cattail flour) : Delicious Lactarius, Scaly Vase, and Pig’s ear, Black trumpet cheese, sea spinach, ratatouille with Chanterelles and daisy buds, cattail spear (so great)
Mushroom Salad-Rice bowl : Stewed Lobster Mushrooms, Wine Cap omelet, smoked duck, spicy Swollen Stalked Cat pickle, rice lettuce, Sticky Gray Trich sweet n’sour sauce, Matsutake tempura (I could eat this every day, forever…)
Pan-roasted venison, Giant Puffball cutlet with mustard and Parasol Mushroom sauce, Morels, Wood Mushroom tourtière-ravioli, Hedgehog sauté with Blewits and Umbrella Hedgehogs
Larch Bolete granite(the only thing I didn’t adore), Yellow-Brown Bolete Jello, Orange-Capped Bolete shortbread, Maple Scented Lactarius sandwich cookie
‘Mushroom Tiramisu’: Glabrescent Bolete cake, Red Mouthed Bolete white chocolate mascarpone mousse, Fairy Ring caramel sauce, mushroom cacao, candied Yellow-foot Chanterelles (a triumph!)
Mignardises: Dark chocolate sausage with nuts and candied Meadow Mushroom, Aspen Scaber Stalk toffee, Slippery Jack and coconut marshmallow
I look forward to returning to taste the “regular” menu. Anyone care to join us?