When I think of mushrooms, I’m back in a trattoria in Florence, on my very first trip. We’d just had a most fantastic dinner, but as can happen, we’d ordered far too much. The best thing on the menu….? Porcini mushrooms. Yes, THE porcini, fresh, in season and just picked. How did I know this?? As they like to do in restaurants in Italy, the gorgeous specimens were proudly on display, at the front of the restaurant.
Back to the fab food that we couldn’t finish…. my Italian at that point was not great and the waiter’s English was even less so. What ended up happening was me, in a sort of charade type scenario, trying to show the waiter that we wanted to take the remaining food with us. He just didn’t get it, which made me try harder. Are you picturing this so far…?? If you know me, you know I won’t let go – until I get it.
As I’m laughing, not wanting to give up because it’s now not only an investment in time, but also in humility… a voice from behind me in the restaurant shouted…. “a porta via!!”
A porta via = literally out the door.. or as we know, to go! The waiter’s eyes lit up – I’m sure in thanks to all the gods above. There were several people at the table where the welcome translation came from, and from the looks on their faces, I think they rather enjoyed the game!!
I’m having a good chuckle right now, as I’m transported back to that first time in Florence. Sigh. I’ve been four times now. I just can’t seem to get enough.~
With local mushrooms available all year long, this can be put together anytime, and makes a delicious and elegant starter to any meal. If you don’t have a grill – get a stove top grill pan. Used for doing anything indoors that you’d cook out outside…. without the mess. Makes 4 pieces and can be easily multiplied.
2 slices, rustic bread, cut in half
1 clove garlic, cut in half
8 oz mushrooms, sliced (cremini or button)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for garnish
In a grill pan over high heat, start to toast the bread – it’s not necessary to use any oil. Flip the bread, and when toasted golden, remove from the pan and immediately rub with the cut side of the garlic. Do this lightly and judiciously – it can really overpower, believe it or not!
In a separate pan, sauté the mushrooms and shallots in the oil, over medium high heat. When golden, season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the cream and reduce until thickened. Turn off the heat and add some of the grated cheese – it’ll really flavour the sauce and help it thicken.
Top the bread with the mushrooms, sprinkle with more Parmigiano and drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm.