Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Cèpe Grows Wild in France. The Cepe is the French Porcini Mushroom. The Cepe on French Menus. The Mushrooms Of France III.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Cèpes, Porcinis, by whatever name you call them can grow quite large
Photograph courtesy of  T Rodgers.
The Cepe de Pins, the pine mushroom.

The Cèpe (Cepe) or Porcini is one of the tastiest wild mushrooms. France is blessed with many pine, chestnut, and oak forests, and those are the trees that the cèpe mushroom likes, of the above the mushoom's favorite is pine forests. In season fresh French Cèpes, as Porcinis elsewhere will be on many menus. That is the time to enjoy the many ways that French chefs offer Cèpes. 
The cepe, the porcini mushroom, on French Menus:
Côte de Bœuf avec des Cèpes de Bordeaux et des Frites Maison A rib roast or a cut from the roast served with the French Cepes de Bordeaux mushrooms from the forests near Bordeaux. According to the menu, alongside the roast are the restaurant's  uniquely made French fries. Traditional French Fries are fried in beef fat with some areas using duck fat. When ordering ask how their French fries are different. 
Entrecôte Bordelaise aux Cèpes de Bordeaux –A rib steak (entrecote) served with that wonderful  Bordelaise sauce accompanied by the French cèpes de Bordeaux,  from the pine forests around Bordeaux.

Le Marcassin du Cepes, Puree de Celeri et Poire.
Young wild boar prepared with cepes, pureed celery and pear.
Filet de Féra du Léman aux Cèpes et Risotto – The broad white fish from Lac Léman, (Lake Geneva) served with cepes and a risotto. The broad white fish is a member of the salmon and trout family, and so it may be served grilled, fried, poached or smoked.

The cepe.

Gros Ravioli de Foie Gras et Cèpes de Nos Ramasseurs – Large ravioli stuffed with fattened duck liver and cèpe mushrooms collected by our own mushroom gatherers. N.B.: Many restaurants have special agreements with Ramasseurs, wild herb and mushrooms gatherers.  Throughout the year, these gatherers will bring to the restaurant wild mushrooms, and wild herbs including wild garlic along with wild vegetables such as wild asparagus.

Les Noisettes de Chevreuil aux Cèpes.- Small cuts from the ribs of a  Roe Deer prepared with cèpes.

Cèpes on sale in a French market.
Photograph courtesy of The Richards,
Noix de Ris d'Agneau Cuit aux Senteurs de Cèpes d'Été et Noix de St Jacques. -  The center cut of lamb sweetbreads flavored with summer cèpes and the meat of the King Scallop. The cèpe season varies with the weather and the region. Rain or damp conditions followed by lots of sun is ideal cepe weather. Fresh cèpes may be on the menu beginning from mid-June through early December, but if the weather is right do not be surprised when they are on the menu at an earlier or later date,
Salade de Cèpes aux Copeaux de Foie Gras, Jambon de Pays Cèpe  salad with shavings of fattened duck liver served with locally cured ham.
Siamese twin cepes.

Saumoneau de Fontaine Sauce Suprème aux Cèpes - Young salmon (smolt) from the river served with a sauce supreme and cepe mushrooms. (Sauce Supreme is a white sauce usually made with veal or chicken stock, butter and crème fraiche; here the stock will probably be changed to a fumet, a fish stock).
Velouté de Cèpes - A velvety cèpe mushroom soup.
The Cèpe des Pins, the pine porcini.
Cèpe des Pins or the Cèpe de Bordeaux – This cèpe is found in the pine forests close to Bordeaux, and in France is the best loved member of the porcini family. The Cèpe des Pins has a cap that can grow to 30 cms in diameter, and while it is not unique to Bordeaux, the locals consider it their own. Those picked in the pine forests close to Bordeaux are called the Cèpe de Bordeaux, the Bordeaux mushroom;  while those picked in other areas of France are known as the Cèpe des Pins, the pine porcini. It matters not that these are the same mushroom; do not argue with tradition. It also does not matter that these mushrooms grow wherever there are pine forests. When the Cèpe des Pins or Cèpe de Bordeaux is on the menu go for it.
The Cèpe des Pins, the pine porcini.
Photograph by courtesy of Roman Eye.   
The  Cèpe des Pins, the pine porcini,  are difficult to see in the forest; you can practically step on them without realizing that a beautiful mushroom is hiding in the pine needles.
All the cèpe mushrooms are tasty, so much so that many commercial mushroom products contain this mushroom as a flavor component.  Porcini mushrooms retain nearly all of their taste when dried, and when later reconstituted are still stars. For that reason, cèpes, porcini, are one of the wild mushrooms that many French chefs use when the fresh cepes are not available. 
Partridge with cepes and sweated endives
Photograph courtesy of Ulterior Epicure.
Foraging for wild mushrooms
If you are travelling in France and go foraging for wild mushrooms, do not cook or eat a single one of your finds until an expert has checked your collection. All French villages and towns have mushrooms experts, volunteers that are trained by the government.  All pharmacists will have a list of the nearest mycologist; that is the same name in English and French for a mushroom expert. Ask for a “mycologue”; their services are free. N.B.: Many mushrooms have close look-alikes that are poisonous.  

The Cèpe mushroom in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan – cep, buixó), (Dutch - gewoon eekhoorntjesbrood), (German – steinpilz, herrenpilz, edelpilz), (Italian - porcini), (Spanish –rodellón, cep, hongo, boleto blanco).
Other mushrooms posts:
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Bryan G. Newman

Behind the French Menu
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