It takes a certain expertise to find truffles but here’s a selection of my personal favorite “catches” when it comes to other types of mushroom.
Right off the bat, I have to point out that mushrooms shouldn’t be picked (or even touched!) unless you are absolutely certain of their type. They especially should not be put in a basket without an experienced mushroom picker nearby. You can’t be too careful when mushrooms are involved.
Now that we’ve covered the most important part, here are my favorite types of mushroom to be found in Northwestern Istria, along with the best recipes containing them.
Red pine mushroom
Rine pine mushroom, the first mushroom I picked as a kid remains to this day my favorite. Nostalgia is great! My first memory of red pine mushrooms is a strong and very pleasant ‘earthy’ scent coming from the mushroom picking basket. I mostly use them in a stew since, once cooked, these mushrooms are the closest thing to meat you can get. With some fries and a side order of vegetables, you’ll get a full meal out of them!
Porcini mushroom and pine bolete
I discovered porcini mushrooms a little later in life than might be expected, considering where I lived. It was love at first sight, especially with the smaller ones, both lighter and darker, hidden among the leaf-covered hillsides of Istria. I love them with scrambled eggs or just lightly simmered with onions. I can’t go wrong with drying them and adding them to other dishes. They’ll eventually end up in almost everything I cook, including seasonal stews or as a pizza topping.
When I come upon parasol mushrooms I’ll first stop to enjoy the sight, often to take a photo, too. It’s so nice to see several of them in the same place. Their exquisitely striped bodies can grow up to 40 centimetres high! After picking them, I’ll put them in frying batter and then freeze them. When I feel like eating some, it’s just a matter of taking them out of the freezer and frying them in oil. This way I get a delicious fall dish I can enjoy throughout the year.