You Say Shiitake…

Multifarious varieties of fungi at our local Farmer’s market

Walking around my garden after the rain we had, I wasn’t at all surprised to see the multitude of mushrooms that had popped up virtually overnight. Would that blog posts sprout as quickly as fungi I’d be one prolific blogger. I always look at them and wonder who has the nerve to eat these fleshy morsels plucked straight from the earth, not really knowing if they’re poisonous or not? Pas moi. I’d rather trust the perfect stranger at the Farmer’s market to tell me they’re safe!

Vermont Wildcrafters

Recently I  read a book called “The Wild Trees” by Richard Preston which is essentially about the Sequoia sempervirens in the Pacific Northwest and the crazy daring botanists and amateur naturalists that climb them, but it was also here that I first learned of the giant Armillaria ostoyae in the Blue Mountains of Oregon. For those easily squeamish, this is a tad, well, eewwwy, but this humongous fungi, mercifully growing mostly beneath the ground, encompasses nearly 4 square miles (that’s 1,665 football fields People!) Discovered in 1998 it knocked the 200 ton Blue whale off its pedestal (or should I say out of the water :)) as the record holder for The World’s Largest Known Organism. Based on it’s current growth rate, it is estimated to be somewhere between 2,400-8,650 years old. FYI, I know some humans that fudge their ages that much. This would also place the giant fungi as one of the oldest living organisms on the planet.

Think about that the next time you are filling your bag with cute little button mushrooms at Von’s (which, another FYI, you should never eat those button mushrooms raw-bad, bad for you)

365267677_ctvoolHu_cAnd to think a Giant Fungus could be growing just beneath this idyllic woodland picnic scene…

But alas, once again I digress…let’s return to my favourite subject


Butter Roasted mushrooms super simple recipe HERE

Or perhaps you prefer your mushroom flavour on the sweet side?Chanterelle macaroons from Pierre Herme

tvs9173ab_lMartha has this delicious sounding recipe for a “Mushroom Martini”  HERE

Purists (and Martha) would likely kill me for saying this, but these gallon sized buckets of freeze dried(?) assorted mushrooms from Costco are surprisingly good, especially in a pinch for soups & sauces.

Caveat; If my counsel means anything to you-do not, I repeat DO NOT stick your nose inside and take a big smell.

There. I saved you.

One of my favourite ways to prepare mushrooms is to simply flash fry some of the fancier, frilly ones in a 50/50 combo of butter & olive oil until they get crispy, drain on paper towel then serve still hot; sprinkled with coarse sea salt and a generous squirt of fresh lemon juice. Like decadent, earthy potato chips-yum!

Do you think it’s easy working fashion into a post about mushrooms?!

ring via

Givenchy bag


I’ve had this image and recipe in my files for years thinking I would someday attempt it. I think it was also from Martha. It’s really the pastry that scares me, but this year might be the year. Rest assured I so will be sharing the photos if I ever make this.

DSC04189Link for Morel mushroom Christmas ornaments below

Magic Mushrooms

I once had mushrooms growing in the trunk of my car when I lived in Vancouver. Not on purpose. It’s an embarrassing story involving a long wet winter and some disastrously forgotten paperwork…that never got ‘filed’. Ah…blessed youth…

Mushroomy tiles

Mushroomy rug

Mushroomy coasters from Barney’s (I have these in violet-so pretty!)

I think Hermes

Toadstools in my friend’s garden in Greece


Brass stools via

I’d love a couple of these in my garden

There’s really something quite magical and pure about mushrooms, don’t you think?

(excluding 4 mile ones and the ones that grew in my car)


Mushroom Christmas ornaments via MadAboutMushrooms


Uncredited photos via Tumblr or Pinterest


  1. Only S.P. would conceive a post about mushrooms and even find couture that looks like one 🙂 When everyone else is doing festive foliage and Christmas fayre,,,, you never fail to amaze me and you never disappoint! Don’t ever change 🙂

  2. Amazing, Slim! I just love how you pull all the references together and it all works- you have such a fantastic stylist’s “eye”. Beautiful blog and very much appreciated!

  3. hi Slim – I love mushroom the colour, and also mushrooms the food, although I didn’t eat them until I was about 25 – quite a grown up taste I think.

    Two mushroom factoids:

    1. have you been to New Zealand? In the birch forests there are lots of amazing toadstools – red caps with white dots. It is like being inside an Enid Blyton story, I kept expecting elves to pop out from under them.

    2. very sad but last year some people picked mushrooms from the woods outside Canberra, whacked them in a stir fry, and died. I agree with you, I am not game to pick and eat them myself.

    Hope you are well xo

    • Oh Jane, I so love the way you have written that these unfortunate people picked mushrooms and “whacked them in a stir fry”! Such a gorgeous Australian turn of phrase!

    • Hi Jane. I’ve never been to New Zealand, nor Australia, I’m sorry to say. I certainly hope to visit someday.
      I’ve also never seen the Enid Blyton toadstools anywhere in the world- what a treat that would be- I’m a big old “Noddy” fan!

    • Oh, you have those huge mushrooms red with white dots, too? I thought I had fallen down the
      rabbit hole when I saw them in the forests around Los Alamos, NM one summer. I stayed away!

  4. Love! I’ve been on doing a little natural /mushroom holiday decorating this year. Seems fitting, for this So Cal weather we’ve had-I’m getting ready to put together a mushroom bunting. Next I’ve gotta’ try your spin on crispy mushrooms.

  5. I thought I would comment on how smoothly you moved from raw mushroom, so elegantly pictured, to the garlic mushroom recipe, to fashion that resembled mushrooms. Very well done. You really are amazing.

  6. Bah, mushrooms. After eleven years of living in France, I am still not completely sold on the story. I know. I can buy chanterelles at my market but still…Heebeejeebees. As my friend Jennifer, who has the most killer food blog in Monico (Gustia) put it, “Morels are hotel rooms for bugs” or something like that. You might know that a lot of pharmacies in France have folks trained in identifying the poisonous from the non, but still!

  7. Slim, try adding white vermouth to your garlic and butter mushroom saute. Delicious! Serve with a slice of smoky gouda atop a (veggie) burger with (or w/o) a hearty bun. Yum!

  8. I didn’t realize mushrooms could be so attractive and dare I say, Pretty? Well done! Although, I’ll pass on the mushroom martini. BTW why are button mushrooms a no,no eaten raw? I love raw mushrooms (the standard kind)

  9. Slim, your readers comments are as entertaining and charming as the blog itself. Are you writing them??xoxolaurie

  10. I’ve lived 3,000 miles from where my parents live for over a decade. A few years ago my dad casually mentioned that some people they hardly know come over to their house every May and harvest the wild morels in the yard. Huh-what? I’ve never been back in May to taste one for myself. It’s funny and sad at the same time. 🙂 Great blog post. Thanks!

  11. What about button mushrooms? Bad bad bad? Could you share as to why? Cooked ok? Maybe not?
    M Hammerstein

    • There are loads of articles about the perils of eating raw mushrooms, particularly buttons, on the internet. I take it all with a grain of salt, like everything else, but it does sound like it’s not a good idea. Here is just one example;
      “The list of edible mushrooms considered safe for raw consumption is quite short. Even species commonly eaten raw, especially the ubiquitous button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, have their drawbacks. Buttons, and many other edible mushrooms contain various hydrazines, a group of chemical compounds generally considered carcinogenic. For the most part, these compounds are heat sensitive, readily volatilized and expunged from the fungal flesh by proper cooking.”
      Also, raw mushrooms are very difficult for us to digest.

  12. Funky! 🙂
    What a fun post. I’ll have to get that book about the sequoias. Sounds very interesting. I can’t believe about that one huge fungus..Freaky. The car story is funny. My friend who has a lovely home recently moved an armoire and mushrooms were growing in her fairly new carpeting!! Talk about freaking out..That didn’t end well.. Yesterday someone gave my 11 year old a fungi farm for his birthday! We’ll see how that one works out..


  13. For long time Slim Paley followers and purists (which I count myself as being one of) your line of reasoning and connecting “the dots” makes perfect sense and just confirms to me that this is the real reason why the internet was meant to be!

  14. Slim, you are just the cleverest blogger out there! What a fun post!
    BTW, I was just at 2 Amys in Washington, DC getting their DOC Neapolitan pizza
    (after a concert at the National Cathedral), and what do you know, they had a special
    mushroom salad made with Matsutuke mushrooms grown in Oregon. They sliced the mushrooms
    with a mandoline, squeezed fresh lemon juice on, pinch of sea salt, shaved reggiano, olive oil across
    the top with fresh chopped chives. Lovely in it’s simplicity…very woodsy. Matsutukes only are on the
    scene for one month in the late fall is what I was told.
    Anyways, your posting made me recall my salad. Cheers!

  15. aaahhhh the fungus amongus…i have had my share of mushroom adventures and mushroom stories…love them all…even those oddities that creepily pop out of the ground like a 99 year old shriveled male appendage..(not that I have EVER seen one of those before)..or the ones you step on and they burst open with a puff of green smoke….my daughter and I can’t wait to bake the savory mushroom macaron from the petits macaron cookbook, recently we created a lovely mushroom confit and a mushroom soufle…yes, it does appear that we are mushroom freaks………did you know that Maitake SX-Fraction improves blood glucose and blood pressure and it is the only vegetable source of vitamin D (a lack of this has been associated with diabetes), they are high in fiber and low in calories, which makes them perfect for those of us who are watching our arses….mmmmmmushrooms…

  16. Ok you have to promise me you will email/tweet something me if you ever try a mushroom martini….promise. And second, snow looks beautiful at your place… don’t you love wordpress…. and third, I need your filing system. Really? A post on mushrooms with fashion and jewelry and art and food and drink OH MY? you slayed this one SlimPaley. Thank you as always for your eye, your art, your voice and your humor. Now about that Mushroom Martini… you need to promise.

  17. I want to see the four mile long fungus! though I dont like mushrooms very much. I do agree with others ,great segue into the fashion

  18. Beautiful post, mushrooms are so pretty in art, although I’m not a big fan of eating them. Some soups are delicious, but other than that the only mushroom I absolutely love are the chanterelles.

  19. I know this is really late, but this has to be one of my favorite posts, I just keep going back to it – as always, so artful and beautifully composed, I love it. Thanks, happy holidays Slim!

Would love to hear from you!