Moonraker Morsels

A Barcelona food blog

‘Bolets’ season

Along with cloudier skies, the nip in the evening air, the blustery wind and recent, at times torrential rain, the other way of knowing that autumn has arrived in Barcelona is the arrival of the bolets. Bolets is Catalan for ‘mushrooms’ and the markets are overflowing with wonderous varieties.  I wandered round the Boquería as the stall holders were setting up for the day, crate upon crate of fungi were stacked up, some of them to be painstakingly trimmed and neatly laid out on display.

 

Boxes of mushrooms

Mountains of mushrooms

 

The selection is vast and to eyes that are so accustomed to seeing bland, button mushrooms shrink wrapped in a plastic tray, their arrival and the opportunity to sample them is an exciting prospect. Mushrooms are very important to Catalonia. The region’s location, northern and coastal yet also mountainous and forestal, provides the perfect environment for wild growth and cultivation and the area generally consumes more of them than other areas on the peninsula. It is a long standing tradition, which appears to be alive and well according to my students, for locals to go foraging for their own at weekends throughout the season which runs through until the new year.

The Saffron Milk Cap is the most popular variety and whole stalls are devoted to them, the care of the display seduces and entices you.

 

Saffron Milk Cap

Saffron Milk Cap (rovelló (cat), níscalo (cast))

 

 

Mushroom stall

Display of Saffron Milk Caps

 

Enormous Queen Boletes, a type of cep lay quartered in the crate, even in pieces they are huge and how to cook these hunks is definitely something to research.

 

Queen bolete

Queen bolete (Sureny (cat), Cep)

 

There are delicate chanterelles and their relation the yellow stemmed chanterelles . Again I want to research some recipes that do them justice and with all this choice some cooking is going to have to wait. Luckily I have a few months ahead of me for planning and salivating expectance.

 

Chanterelle

Chanterelles (rossinyol (cat), rebozuelo (cast))

 

 

Yellow stem chanterelle

Yellow stem chanterelles (rossinyolic (cat), rebozuelo (cast))

 

I’d love to write about the earthy, woody smells being emitted from the stalls, that wafts of forest were stimulating my olfactory bulb. Unfortunately, despite the Boquería being possibly my favourite place in the city, it’s odour of disinfectant, jamons, fish and nearby drains is sometimes a bit of an assault on the nose. All said, you forget the aroma when there are marvellous, smooth, milky stemmed specimens of oyster mushrooms catching your attention.

 

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushrooms (orellana (cat), seta de cardo (cast))

 

I brought home some of the Saffron Milk Caps with another variety called St George’s mushroom (moixernó (cat), seta de primavera (cast)), which are very similar in appearance to the milk caps but without the blueish – green tinge. Slightly toasted bread, drizzled with a little olive oil, a brand called Oleaurum which is so moreish it takes a lot of restraint to stop pouring it on nearly everything I eat, and thick slices of some of each mushroom sautéd in some butter and a dribble of bog standard olive oil to stop the butter burning. I also threw in a whole garlic clove so it had a hint of the flavour but without overpowering the fungi but whipped it out before serving, seasoned with salt and pepper and then sprinkled some chopped parsley in at the end. Perfect, delicious quick food for someone like me who arrives home from work late and generally famished.Sauted saffron milk cap mushrooms with parsleyWhilst the market doesn’t have the woodland aroma, the mushrooms certainly did. Wiping them with kitchen towel removed more dirt than pre-packed button mushrooms and there was a definite whiff of pine coming off them. Also unlike ‘regular’ mushrooms they didn’t ooze water during cooking so would’ve benefitted from being sliced a little thinner before going in the pan. Nevertheless, they were a juicy, ‘meaty’, substantial supper and an introduction to my forays into fungi.

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4 comments on “‘Bolets’ season

  1. Sharmila
    October 24, 2010

    Ah, I’ve been wondering what type of mushroom those saffron milk caps are? My best friends live in Valencia, next to the most wonderful food market, and we picked some of these up for a bit of a cooking feast last time we were there.

    Sadly, I don’t think I did them justice, and should have sliced them thinner. I also found it hard to get rid of all the grit, but maybe they were particularly gritty specimens?

    • butterytoast
      October 24, 2010

      They are quite gritty, I had to wipe them for ages before they looked pretty clean. They have lots of ridges on the underside which I think traps the dirt but I wouldn’t want to wash them and risk them going slimy. I agree about them needing to be cut thinner, I think they make also be good stewed or in a robust dish as well as they stay quite firm when cooked.

  2. roger cooper
    September 19, 2011

    It would perhaps be helpful if you or someone else could supply the scientific (Latin) name for each of these mushrooms.

    This would be both a safety measure and a useful guide to other countries where these mushrooms presumably occur.

    I have a copy of Ramon Pascual’s ‘Guia dels bolets dels Paisos Catalans’ so I can come up with the internationally-recognized names, but obviously others are unlikely to have this.

    • butterytoast
      October 12, 2011

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for your comment however I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving the latin names to these mushrooms as I’m not an expert. I think consulting any good mushroom book, such as the one you mention would be more useful. Thanks for reading.

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2010 by in Catalan food, Markets / food fairs and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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