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Fancy a Spot of Mushroom Foraging?

Submitted by on August 31, 2009 – 10:04 pmNo Comment

mushroom_edibleLovers of the countryside and fine food will have a field day on October 10, 2009, during a Mushroom Foray at Summer Lodge Country House in Evershot, Dorset, England. Guests will accompany celebrated wild-mushroom hunter John Wright as he forages for edible delights in the chalk downlands and leafy woods around the village of Evershot, deep in the heart of the Dorset countryside immortalized by Thomas Hardy in his “Wessex” novels (remember Far from the Madding Crowd?).

Those rolling hills provide some of the best mushroom hunting grounds in England, and there’s no better guide than John — he has led some 250 fungi forays over the years and is the author of the River Cottage Mushroom Handbook. With an expert in the lead, absolutely no previous experience is required.

dorset_summerhouse2There will be two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The morning session will start at 9:30 a.m. with a short talk by John, followed by a few hours of exploring and foraging on the downs. Once everyone has worked up a hearty appetite, they’ll retire to the Acorn Inn for a well-earned pub lunch — and to enjoy mushroom dishes such as Chanterelles, Leek, Parmesan Gnocchi, Artichoke Cream and Celeriac and Spinach Risotto, Roasted Ceps and Tarragon, starting from £12.95 per person. Before everyone tucks in to their meals, John will review the morning’s harvest – some of which may then be cooked up and devoured!

The afternoon session will again start with a talk from John at 2:30 p.m. Then he’ll take his merry band of foragers away from the downlands, into the woodlands where several other varieties of edible mushrooms can be found. At 6:30 p.m., everyone will gather in the hotel to examine all the different types of mushrooms, toadstools and fungi collected during the day. John will identify the mushrooms and discuss each in turn, before dinner is served in the Conservatory.

dorset_summerhouseSteven Titman, the Head Chef, is preparing a special mushroom-themed menu that probably will include some of the specimens collected during the foray. Depending on the day’s harvest, he may be able to include Ceps, Black Trompettes or Chanterelles, or perhaps even rarer varieties. A five-course fungi extravaganza at Summer Lodge is priced at £65 per person and will showcase dishes such as Roast Breast of Wood Pigeon with Caramelised Shallot Tart, Shallot Puree and Black Trompette; and Loin of Venison with Chanterelle Risotto, Roasted Butternut Squash and Madeira Jus. Eric Zwiebel, sommelier, will give a short talk about which wines are most appropriate for the feast that awaits.

Any guests staying in the hotel on Friday or Saturday night are welcome to come on the forage; both sessions are complimentary and open to non-residents. Participants may decide to forage in the morning, or the afternoon, or both. Lunch and dinner are optional, but most will opt to dine. Participants will also have the opportunity to buy signed copies of John’s books about the edible delights of the countryside and seashore.

dorset_summerhouse4Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, set in four acres of gardens, is the epitome of the English country house in the picturesque Dorset village. This 24-bedroom five-star hotel has a spa, indoor pool and restaurant. It is a member of Relais & Châteaux. Prices for overnight stays at Summer Lodge Country House start from £264 per room per night, including VAT at 15% and Full English breakfast.

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