October 16th was Pine mushroom day in my family. The weather was perfect Indian summer and there were more than a dozen cars parked at or near my secret mushroom picking spot on Vancouver Island. It did not bode well, and indeed, the woods had been picked for the elusive Pine mushroom by pros using a military level search pattern. But, we either got lucky or our perseverance roughing through swamps, bushy areas and cobwebs was rewarded. At the end of the day, we had hiked many miles and gathered many prime Matsutake specimen (the pine mushroom) and also some cauliflower mushroom, lobster mushroom, white and yellow chanterelles and even a few hedgehogs.
Pine Mushroom have a very strong and distinct aroma not dissimilar to that of wine that would be kept in pine wood casks. The aroma does not come out best when it is sauteed so the pine is a great addition to soup, risotto or scalloped potatoes.
For 2 people, I peeled two baking potatoes, sliced them thin, washed and dried them. I grease a Le Creuset gratin dish with olive oil and then layered potatoes and slices of pine mushroom, added 1/2 cup strong chicken broth, 1/2 cup 33% cream, salt and pepper and cooked it for a full hour at 350. Wait another 10 minutes before serving, you are going to eat the tastiest potatoes ever. (The mushroom would make lighter cream curdle).