When I was young, I hated mushrooms. At least, I thought I did, but I hadn't really ever eaten them. I was under the impression that they were slimy and gross, which was the basic opinion of my parents. The only mushrooms I ate until my late teens were from a can, fried with onions and well-hidden in overboiled Uncle Ben's Minute Rice and VH Garlic Rib Sauce. I no longer eat Uncle Ben's rice, but I still occasionally make my mother's rice recipe as a nostalgic comfort food. I use fresh button mushrooms and some type of brown whole grain rice. (The VH Medium Garlic Rib Sauce is really good — it is one of the few processed foods I still buy and use.)
My palate has come a long way since my boyhood. Last year I and my then-girlfriend Megan (now my wife) attended a mushroom feast at Les Jardins Sauvages, a restaurant in St. Roch de l’Achigan known as a table forestière, which means that the food served is mostly from the forest. When mushroom harvest time rolled around this year and I received my reminder email from chef Nancy Hinton (who has a great food blog), I reserved a table right away for Megan and me.
Last year our meal began at 7 p.m, which meant it was dark outside and we could not really see or appreciate where we were, which was rolling farmland about half an hour outside of Montreal. It was also raining. We had a fantastic and unforgettable meal, and then we went home.
This year we reserved our table for the Sunday lunch, and luckily, that Sunday afternoon was one of the few dry and sunny days this season (it rained the day before and the day after). The restaurant is usually open on Friday and Saturday nights, but for the mushroom feast they expanded their schedule and added Sunday lunches. The photo was taken from our table, which was on a screened-in porch. We could clearly hear the water rushing around the bend of the river that the restaurant was nestled on.
We arrived early enough to have a glass of wine before our meal began. It's a bring-your-own-wine situation common to many Montreal (and Quebec) restaurants. This means that your meal will cost you less because your wine won't be marked up by 250% or more, but it also means that some of the money you are saving may be spent on more food at the restaurant. It's a win-win situation for both restaurant and diner.
Almost all of the ingredients are foraged by Francois Broulliard, a fourth-generation forager who really knows his way around the countryside. The ingredients are then transformed into food by chef Nancy Hinton, who has worked in some of the area's best eateries.
Here is the menu, with photos: