I’m in love with a mushroom, and I don’t mean the smoking kind.

Porcini mushrooms win the blue ribbon as the delicacy of all delicacies in my book, and I pretty sure I’m not alone. There are many types and qualities of porcini mushrooms.

But, as for my love story, Porcino and I fell in love slowly, and over time developed a mutually binding and loving relationship built on admiration, fate, and a tiny bit of lust. When I first tasted porcini mushrooms five years ago, I wasn’t sold. Now that my taste buds have matured, I’m relatively certain, I just didn’t like that recipe. Because, seriously. What’s not to like? The meaty flavor can easily substitute as a main course, or it can be used to compliment your favorite pasta or risotto. Porcini can be a side dish or an appetizer. I haven’t quite figured out how to make them as a dessert, but I’m working on it!

I realize how lucky I am to live in Italy, and even more so, Calabria, where fresh porcini mushrooms are just around the corner. In fact, one of my favorite mountainside retreats features a restaurant where every dish is centered around porcini delight, and they are, as my aunt would say, “utterly divine!”

Fossa del Lupo is currently my favorite restaurant in Calabria. In addition to the epicurean delight waiting inside, the owner lived in America, and always greets us at the door, with a “Ciao Bello” for Peppe, and a “Hello, how are you today?” for me.

And, it’s not an ugly place, either.

All week I had been craving (no hidden messages here, folks) porcini risotto. So, I had my dish selected before we walked through the door. Pep took a little longer to decide.

Since the restaurant was relatively crowded, and Pep gets a bit too embarrassed by my over-zealous photo sessions, I had to rush through my pictures with the speed of Super Girl and the cunning of Cat Woman. So, I didn’t quite capture the essence that is porcini.

The porcini risotto is the best dish I’ve ever had in Italy. It was so satisfying, in fact, that I passed on a second plate.

Pep didn’t. He also ordered a savory side dish of grilled and fried porcini.

Of which I finished off.

Isn’t he a beauty?

So, what about you, have you ever tried porcini mushrooms? What did you think?

In keeping with the delectable food theme of the day, be sure to visit Mary at Flavors of Abruzzo for this week’s La Buona Cucina Americana recipe … crab cakes. Yum.

Buon Weekend, everyone!

30 Responses
  1. Mary

    I too am in love with Porcini – and I’m not a big fan of mushrooms. But, porcini are different. I keep a stash of the dried kind at home so I can whip up some risotto or pappardelle with porcini every once in a while.

  2. Porcini and I are also quite in love. I love them in just about anything in fact. Even the outside of that restaurant reminds me of the porcini restaurant in Serra San Bruno–where they also serve fabulous homemade ricotta. YUM!

  3. oh YUM YUM! I too am pazzi per porcini! I never liked mushrooms at all until we moved to Italy…now I choose them any chance I get. I’m even making a porcini risotto tonight for dinner 🙂 I’d love to try those fried porcini that you pictured

  4. I love, love, love porcini too. They really add zip to a meal. I remember having a great steak smothered in sautéed porcini when I was in Orvieto. Yum!
    I know what you mean about taking pics in restaurants. It was pretty embarrassing for my hubby when I started snapping away in Paris, esp in the nice restaurants. And I don’t enjoy my meal completely because of it either. I may stop taking pictures altogether, unless I’m at home, and just describe the food. What do you think?

  5. Oh…that all looks great!!! I don’t really love them laone, but I love them *in* things. That risotto would be right up my alley. Your *hunting* comment reminded me that I’d love to go tuffle hunting someday…you in Cherrye?

  6. Stehanie

    I too am in love with Porcini’s. Visiting Florence we stayed in a villa in Lastra a Signa, just 10 minutes from Florence. The villa was up in the mountain and was next door to the best little restaurant I have found in Italy. The name was “Edi Piu”, where I had pasta with porcini mushrooms. It was soooo good, I almost ate the plate. The restaurant was beautiful and was built in the 1200’s, so was our villa.

  7. I always feel guilty to the blog world if I dont take pics, Linda. I can see what you mean about your meal, but I LOVE taking them and sharing them.

    Running, that risotto was SO good. I’m not actually crazy about that pasta, which I think might have been the first thing I ever tried there.

    I’m always up for an adventure, Robin. Count me in!

    Stephanie that sounds amazing. I bet the villa was breathtaking, but I bet the plate wouldn’t have been as good!

  8. Porcini mushrooms are my mushrooms of choice whenever I make my “risotto al funghi”. They make the dish for me…no other mushroom seems to work as well as the porcini!

  9. oh yeah – I am a big fan of porcini. my favorite mushrooms are morels but most all funghi get my vote. hehe yummmm porcini risotto – i think risotto is one of the most delicious things Italians ever concocted. those pics make my mouth water!

  10. I love mushrooms – any type. I’m not sure if I had porcini, but I’m sure I would love it. My favorite is portabello (I call them the steak of mushrooms).

  11. I think that restaurant looks incredibly beautiful! What a great atmosphere. I don’t like mushrooms (At least none that I have tasted up to now) and I feel guilty I don’t. Those do look kind of yummy though…

  12. Sally

    Cherrye, the Giro d’Italia starts today. I looked at the Cyclingnews.com webpage and surprise!, Stage 4 on Tuesday is going through Catanzaro!

    And, I love porcini mushrooms! I had a fresh porcini salad in Rome with arugula, olive oil, grated parmesan cheese. Yummm!

  13. Oh, Lulu, you need to come back to Calabria and try these!

    Ditto, Stacy! The porcini risotto is amazing.

    Now, Nadine, I am not an expert on mushrooms, but I think porcini and portabellos are similiar. They seem to be to me, anyway!

    You might not like this restaurant, then, Rhea. Almost every dish has some kind of mushroom!

    Oh, thanks for the update on the giro, Sally!! That fresh porcini salad sounds delish! I should try to make that sometime.

    I bet most things are cheaper here (even in Rome) than they were in LA, huh, Arlene?

  14. I’ve never been lucky enough to try fresh porcini but once I had used the dried ones, I was hooked. I love to use them in risotto.

  15. Porcini will definitely be on the menu when I visit Calabria this summer. I’m SO excited to see my family…and the food ain’t so bad either 😛

  16. Fiona, I think it is decided – RISOTTO wins!

    Meredith – TRY THEM!!! These pics REALLY don’t do they justice!

    Lulu, I didnt realize you were coming this summer! YEA!!

  17. WELL….I hope you are satisified! I had planned on staying home, maybe popping some popcorn, maybe a bowl of cereal but now, thanks to you. I MUST MAKE PORCINI RISOTTO! I love all things muchroom but morels and porcini are my favorites.

  18. I have tracked here through Bella Vita in Liguria blog – was attracted by the description of a Texan in Italy. I’m a Texan (living in Houston) who married a wonderful Italian! Apparentlly there are more than one or two… Anyway. The best food I have ever eaten was a risotto with fresh and dried porcini, prepared by a teenager at a little guest house in Gandria. Fabulous stuff, which I have been trying to recreate ever since. I’ll add you to my list of blogs, if you don’t mind. Kinda new to blogging but it’s a great way to connect to the big wide world. Ciao!

  19. Welcome, Amyemilia! We are practically neighbors! Have you ever eaten at Lupe Tortillas in Houston?? Ahhh, that is my favorie! Welcome to the world of blogging. I hope you enjoy yourself!

    Ditto, ditto, ditto, Joe! You will definitely have to try Fossa del Lupo next time you are in Calabria. It’s not too far from Lamezia!

  20. The restaurant looks fabulous! And so does the food.

    I want the grilled and fried porcini! And I want it now!

    Very nice – have you, can you, could you put this restaurant on a map??

    All the best,


  21. Ordinarily, I don’t like mushrooms. Of any kind. (I know, I know.) But the husband makes an absolutely to-die-for mushroom pizza that I positively wolf down whenever I get the chance. 🙂

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