Our constitutional Monday walk with The Chap was more welcome than usual this week.
Desperate for some fresh air and an escape from the kitchen(having foregone our usual Monday off due to the August Bank Holiday)we headed out to one of the many a nearby forests.
Parked up and dressed appropriately, we had strolled along a dirt track for about 20 minutes when something at the periphery of the treeline caught our eyes.
We both spotted it at the same time.
DID YOU SEE THAT?
Visible at the perimeter of the trees just to the side of the path was this amazing specimen.
The most perfectly formed Bay Boletus I have ever set eyes on.
A highly prized item.
Looking under the tree line I spied several more,not all the same but undoubtedly variations of one of the most highly regarded fungi in the culinary world: Ceps or Porcini mushrooms.
As you can see the forestation was dense to say the least.Ceps grow favourably close to pine trees,the branches providing compact and close coverage almost to ground level.Yours truly(being conveniently smaller) compliantly crawled underneath and was able to extract this amazing 'shroom which Chef is kindly modelling.
It was agreed that Chef would return to the car and obtain a receptacle in order for us to collect these fortuitous discoveries.A twenty minute trip back to the car became a forty minute round trip.Meanwhile,I waited in the quiet under the impenetrable canopy of trees.It was quiet.Very quiet.Strangely no bird sounds nor any sign of the usual plentiful rabbits or other small rodents and definitely no humans.Perfectly still and deadly quiet.Quite an odd but not unenjoyable experience.
I looked around.The ground was soft and mossy and gave to the touch.I took a couple of photos.There were fungi everywhere.
I have never seen so many varieties in one spot.You can see two Ceps in this photo along with many others which I wouldn't be confident about naming.The photo also doesn't give the sense of (or lack of)space .This was taken quite close to the ground,I couldn't stand in the space.It was also much darker than this picture appears.
There were lots of these attractive little chaps ,Fly agaric.
(Later, on returning home and consulting our trusty fungi manual we learnt that these grow alongside Boletus.A good piece of information to know)
Chef returned(not before time)I was getting a little edgy on my own in the enchanted forest.I was able to plunder two large carrier bags full.I was choosy,discarding the ones that were just starting to over ripen and turn yellowish under the cap.Still OK to use though.Around 3 kilos.Chef reckoned around ninety quids worth.Not bad for half an hours work.
Further along the track we spied what we thought were hedgehog mushrooms,shaggy ink caps and lots of these,which we thought werepuffballs,but weren't entirely sure....didn't think they were meant to have a noticeable stem.They did have the texture though and no gills.
In honesty the only ones we were confident to pick and take home were the Ceps.More examples.
As we smiled self indulgently at our not insignificant haul, I noticed Chef eyeing me quite curiously as we walked back to the car.Granted,I was moderately dishevelled having crawled commando style along the forest floor, face and clothing whipped by stray forestation.Furthermore,I cant claim to be consistently the most immaculately groomed of females.There was something else....
Self:What's up I can see you looking at me funny..
Chef:Well,what's that on your face????(pointing tentatively and keeping at a safe distance)
As my hand reached up the reality of my long forgotten and aggressive allergy to pine trees came back and smacked me right in the face.
I had indeed a face like a slapped arse.With teeth.
Following an emergency appointment with the Piriton tablets,a selection of our harvest at home.
The Chap was most inquisitive.
Chef ever the practical one, has ordered a handy pocket sized 'shroom identification book courtesy of Amazon today.Looks like that's the next few Mondays taken care of..
Personally I was hoping for one of these.