Honestly, I'm not a big fan of mushrooms. I never buy them, I avoid them in other people's cooking, and I will only eat them on a pizza if said pizza is free (as is the case with basically any pizza topping).
But I also balance a tricky double life—glamourous, adventurous magazine editor by day, shameful mushroom-avoider by night. Am I going to say no to trying a six-course dinner at Wildebeest, even if every dish is centered around mushrooms? Of course not.
At the risk of spoilers, I'm only focusing on the finale of this dish. Don't get me wrong: the first five courses are artful and plenty delicious, even if mushrooms aren't your thing (the appetizer is a shot of warm mushroom tea, which stands in second place in both taste and weirdness). But dessert was mushroom ice cream, a union that kind of feels like a trusted friend of mine dating a guy who wears snapbacks.
If you're picturing a rocky-road-esque concoction with chunks of mushroom, stop that right now. Wildebeest's mushroom ice cream is made with 11—yes, 11—different kinds of mushrooms foraged from Vancouver Island. Before a chat with Chef Ian McHale, I'd heard of less than half of the mushrooms that go into this creamy treat. He uses yellow chanterelles, white chanterelles, porcini, bearstooth, hedgehog, bolettes, cauliflower, pig's ear, morels, turkey tail, and chiogga mushrooms. The ice cream is made by cooking down mushrooms in caramelized sugar. The mixture is pureed and added to a milk ice cream (read: no chunks involved).
And somehow, it's delightful. Even stranger, it still tastes like mushrooms. Anyone could determine the flavour from a blind taste test, though they might not believe their taste buds. It's light and sweet and creamy, not earthy or meaty like mushrooms can sometimes be. Accompanying the mushroom marvel is an espresso and alba truffle mousse, making for a wonderfully airy dessert that even the fullest of bellies can manage. It's like the guy who wears snapbacks also sends good morning texts and reads bell hooks.
I can't choose a punchline for this post (I might never write about another 11-mushroom ice cream in my life!) so pick your poison:
We all scream for mushrooms.
I guess I'm changing my morels.
Won't you take me to fungi town.