After the wine harvest in France, autumn sets in. Winter squash and Swiss chard begin to appear at markets and on menus. Yet one item that especially excites me this time of year are the mushrooms. Here in the sud-ouest of France, mushroom lovers swoon over the cèp, also known as porcini or king bolete, and for good reason.
In the same way the cèp mushroom is notably expensive, the taste and mouthfeel notably stand-out. They boast a rather delicate, nutty and woodsy flavor with a meaty and robust texture that softens when cooked, yet works beautifully in brown and butter sauces. They are a sublime burst of flavor in dishes!
Little known fact: The porcini, an umami food, has a relatively high protein content and a healthy dose of other vitamins and minerals.
In normal years, cèpes are available from roughly late-August through October. This year was anything but normal with extreme heat all summer into autumn, thus their appearance was delayed.
Our first cèp dish spotting was in Bordeaux at one of our favorite lunch spots near the Cathedral Saint-Andre – Horace. Commonly served as a starter, or ‘entree’ in French, cèpes are sautéed in some combination of butter or other fat, garlic, parsley or chervil, stock and/or some kind of wine, and sprinkled with a finishing salt. Their preparation was similar at Horace and delicious, garnished with crushed hazelnuts and a few baby greens.
Moving on, Mark and I split them as an entrée (starter) at the new Bordeaux restaurant Casa Sudette in the booming Nansouty neighborhood of Bordeaux. A similar preparation below with thinly sliced, raw cremini mushrooms and roasted almonds over the top.
In addition to adding them to various dishes, it is common to make them into velouté, which is the French version of a puréed soup. This photo shows an exceptionally tasty velouté from Restaurant Mets Mots in the Fondaudège corridor of Bordeaux.
Like most mushrooms, this one is fantastic with wine. The deep, savory character works quite well with Pinot Noir from anywhere in the world. Depending on their preparation, here are a few other wines we recommend with a plate of sautéed cèpes.
Jurançon Moelleux (moelleux meaning half sweet) – Jurançon is a white wine only appellation. Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, two of the grapes allowed, have mouth-watering (higher) acidity even when half-sweet wines. And the other grape sometimes included, Courbu, isn’t far behind.
This little known, southern France appellation produces sweet, half sweet and dry whites that can stand up to the best in Bordeaux in fact!
Jurançon Moelleux are rich tasting, medium- to full-bodied wines matching the deeply savory character of cèpes, especially when sautéed with butter, oil, or another fat and herbs.
- Clos Lapeyre – US Importer
- Domaine Cauhapé – US Importer
- Chateau Lafitte – US Importer
- Domaine de Cabarrouy
- Domaine de Souch
Chardonnay – Fuller-bodied barrel or lees aged, and more mature Chardonnay have a richness and creaminess that mirror sautéed cèpes. The richness of both stand up beautifully to each other.
Other red wines will work too, especially if serving the cèpes (porcini) as a side dish with red meats. My friend David from Cooking Chat shares recipes and wine ideas for porcini served in this manner.
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This blog article was inspired by the French #Winophiles group of bloggers, writers and enthusiasts and the October theme celebrating autumn. Cooking and traveling inspiration follow in the articles below!
Jeff of Food Wine Click! takes us to Backroads Bourgogne in Autumn: Bistro des Falaises
Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is Celebrating Fall French Style
Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares Europe by Milk Run, Coquilles Saint-Jacques, and L’un Des Sens Orange Wine
Gwendolyn of Wine Predator is Falling for Fall with Four French Wines plus Instant Pot Beef Bourguignonne Pot Pie
Susannah of Avvinare shares Cru Bourgeois: Perfect for Fall Fare
I leave curious minds with a succinct article about Domaine Cauhapé and Jurançon wines from bkwines.com If you cannot find fresh porcini mushrooms where you are, the dried version rehydrated add an orbiting flavor to dishes!