The wild mushrooms of Paranà will be the basis for a truly special dinner

The wait is renewed every year. April comes, May enters and, every day, the biologist Maurício Janzen goes to the camp to have a look under the pines to see if there are any signs of porcini mushrooms in the region of Witmarsum, municipality of Palmeira – 80 km from Curitiba.

And the time has come again. Some mushrooms have already appeared, but sporadically one here and one there. According to Janzen, there’s still a last touch of rain, a little more moisture to finally germinate them under the pine straws. And then, in these parts of here, the beginning of the Porcino season will be decreed. As the weather forecast announces rain starting next weekend …

I have been following for at least four years the work he and his wife Audrey develop in monitoring the mushroom cycle in Witmarsum and the region (the first publication I did was in May 2019, check it out here). While he works in the fields, she intensifies the work of contact with cooks and chefs, a number that, every year, grows more and more in interest for requests and information.

From the table to the plate

With the passing of these years and with regular production, the fact is that Porcini Mushrooms are already a local product, even if there are still some paradigms to break. Although refined and of very high nutritional value, it is still far from having the space it deserves in the gastronomy and taste of Paraná. This is a structural challenge, as it is not part of our culture to go to the forest to collect mushrooms, as our ancestors did. So, how could we imagine the construction of a supply chain based on the collection and rational use of this raw material?

Porcini mushrooms are born among the straw of the pines and spread throughout the Witmarsum region.
Porcini mushrooms are born among the straw of the pines and spread throughout the Witmarsum region. | Photo: Audrey Janzen

This challenging context brought together the couples Maurício and Audrey Janzen and Massimiliano Morabito and Cibele Michelon. And this is, literally, the union of two worlds. Morabito is an Italian chef, born in Rome, and shares with his wife all the cultural baggage of the Italian porcini chain, from the harvest to the most varied preparations.

He says that, in his childhood, he woke up at dawn, on cold days, to go with his father to collect mushrooms in the woods of what is now the outskirts of Rome. There is no shortage of stories of all kinds of recipes made by his parents, with the mushroom associated with local ingredients which, in his words: it was a party, especially on Sundays, when there was no school and he woke up smelling of mushrooms and fresh pasta.

Experiences like this one from Morabito, handed down from father to son, have caught the attention of the Janzen couple, who have served the chef since the beginning of the first mushroom picks and deliveries in Curitiba, 5 years ago. These reported experiences have filled the gaps in the field studies developed by Maurício, such as the relationship between productivity and the way the mushroom is used, based on its size and ripening stages, which, in the hands of Massimiliano, are been translated into sauces, salads, preserves, different dishes and even desserts.

Time has allowed ideas to mature and take shape, and it is in this relationship of exchanges and friendship that the project was born. Fungaroliterm used precisely for mushroom pickers in Italy, such as Morabito’s father.

Chef Massimiliano Morabito and biologist Maurício Janzen, partner of an eleven-stage dinner, all featuring mushroom dishes, at the beginning of June.
Chef Massimiliano Morabito and biologist Maurício Janzen, partner of an eleven-stage dinner, all featuring mushroom dishes, at the beginning of June. | Photo: Audrey Janzen

Festival of Porcini

This project was born with the aim of stimulating the development of the production chain of Paranaense Porcini Mushrooms, initially solving the problems of supply and demand of the mushroom, through the integration of scientific knowledge with culinary practice. The project will carry out a series of gastronomic and rural events, promoted by the group The Fungarolicomposed of the two pairs.

The first gastronomic event, to celebrate this beginning of the harvest, will be held at the Osteria Capitolina, in Curitiba, an event that will mark a real Porcini Festival and is scheduled for the 9th of June.

The place will be presented with the most varied methods of preparing dishes with an abundance of Porcini Mushrooms as protagonists and, on this occasion, the group will bring their different experiences translated into these preparations. Nothing less than a true feast of aromas and flavors is expected to make history. Literally, the way from the earth to the table.

The full menu will have 11 steps and was finalized this weekend. See how it turned out.

1- Covered (artisan bread, pate and butter with porcini and panzanella with porcini).

2 – Porcini mushrooms in salad with confit cherry tomatoes (organic mixed leaves with delicate slices of oak porcini mushrooms, dressed with citrus sauce and Sicilian lemon pearls and balsamic vinegar) – if on the day of the event it is not possible to collect the fresh porcini, this dish will be replaced.

3 – Basket of porcini mushrooms and brie (vol-au-vent filled with brie, grilled on charcoal with porcini mushrooms).

4 – Sous vide scallops with porcini mushrooms (vacuum-packed scallops, served in a bed of leek cream with grilled porcini mushrooms).

5 – Prawn stuffed with porcini mushrooms on aubergine and mint cream (Prawn gun stuffed with porcini mushrooms, with aubergine and mint mousse).

6 – Parmesan flan with porcini mushrooms and traditional balsamic vinegar of 15 years (Parmesan soufflé with porcini cream and drops of balsamic vinegar aged 15 years).

7 – Tagliolini with angola chicken ragout and porcini mushrooms (homemade pasta, made with porcini mushrooms, with guinea fowl ragout and porcini mushrooms).

8 – Ravioli del plin stuffed with porcini mushrooms with cheese fondue and toasted almonds (Pasta filled with porcini mushrooms, with cream cheese sauce and toasted almonds).

Sgroppino (Venetian origin, this lemon and vodka ice cream drink purifies the palate to continue tasting)

9 – Grilled mushrooms with creamy white polenta (grilled porcini mushrooms, served with creamy white polenta).

10 – Braised boar with porcini (boar stew with porcini mushrooms, served with potato flakes).

11 – Dessert – English cream with porcini mushrooms (English cream with porcini mushrooms).

The tasting menu will cost R $ 495 per person (the price does not include drinks) and, to book a unique experience like this, you need to make a reservation. It is worth noting that the number of participants will be very limited to guarantee excellent service.

Audrey and Maurício Janzen with mushrooms. It is five years of research and dedication. | Photo: disclosure

i just need to collect

Some porcini mushrooms have already been found in the Witmarsum region, on other properties that are not affected by the research and work of the Janzen. The couple, in fact, is willing to be ready to guide anyone who has doubts about it. To consult the feasibility of producing Porcini on any property, you can contact them to arrange a technical visit.

There, elements such as quantification, production prospecting, propagation feasibility, inoculation, crop study and, of course, processing and trade will be analyzed.

By the way, even if the expected start of production is still scheduled for the next few days, it is already possible to order the mushrooms in direct contact with Audrey Janzen, who takes care of this part.

Let’s move on to the contact channels.

Reservations for gastronomic event Osteria Capitolina: telephone (41) 3079-8545.

Information on fresh porcini mushrooms and any reservations, contact Audrey Janzen directly: phone (41) 99934-2083.

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