|Cep or penny bun - worth the searching|
Culinary Aspects? Other than truffles and possibly morels, probably the most sort after and edible wild mushroom going. It dries extremely well, tastes superb and is excellent in just about any mushroom dish, but is probably best not wasted, fresh, on things like stews or fricassees. If you find some, dry them - it's worth it. I would strongly recommend buying dried ones, despite the extremely prohibitive cost, because they add a fantastic taste (when reconstituted and liquor retained) to a lot of dishes, especially something like wild mushrooms with white wine and mascarpone.
Where have I found it? Now, that would be telling, wouldn't it. I mean, why on Earth would I want people to know where I've found these when they are so uncommon? Well, as far south as the New Forest and as far north as Strontian in the West Highlands of Scotland. I have found it closer to home, but that's where my loose tongue gets tied. You will normally find them in clearings in deciduous woods, but you can also find them around pine forests. They like sandy soil, but also loamy soil. I've found them under oak and also under sweet chestnut, growing near tree stumps and usually in clearings and even on golf tees.
Interesting 'facts'? Well, while I was in Poland in 2003, the most expensive thing on a restaurant menu in one of the finest eateries in Warsaw was a Porcini stew which was quite pleasant, but isn't something you'd want too much of. In the Alps, during the season, they can exchange hands for tens of Euros per kilo, but unlike the next in our A to Z, these wonderful mushrooms are also prone to attracting maggots and insects. Don't be put off if any dried ones you buy have that ... eaten look in the stalks, the insects are long gone.
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|bay boletus tends to have a yellowish underside|
Culinary Aspects? Possibly my favourite boletus because of its versatility and the fact that unlike the mighty cep, bay boletes tend not to attract insects and maggots. I believe they cook better than ceps when fresh as they have a slightly firmer flesh and work very well with cream and/or white wine. Also very good for drying.
Where have I found it? Over the years I have found that this is actually probably rarer/less common than ceps. I have found these in the good ol' New Forest, where you can just about find anything and very few other places, although I have been lucky and know of a place that is within 3 miles of where I live where they have grown, unusually, every other year from the end of August to the end of September.
Interesting 'facts'? I believe, though there's nothing scientific gone into this, that the reason the bay boletus suffers from less of a maggot infestation is because of the tougher more fibrous stalk it possesses. It does seem more compact and dense than other boletus and like some of the lepiotas we'll come across at the letter P, even hungry maggots can't eat their way through something that doesn't want to give.
Again, not a fact, but renowned mushroom connoisseur Antonio Carluccio prefers this and has championed this mushroom many times before.
The yellow underside stains blue when bruised, this is often a warning sign with some mushrooms, but not this one.
There are many edible boletes and very few poisonous or inedible ones. We'll touch on them as we go along.
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