Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Wood Garlic Tagliatelle

Garlic Mushroom Tagliatelle

Sunlight trickles through the canopy of leaves, the light slowly easing its way down, barely reaching the forest floor. The limey evergreens that tower above look ominous and imposing. A woody aroma permeates through the forest, as peculiar shrills and chirps stir the surrounding bushes. A butterfly flutters past leaving a trail of magic and wonder. There was an enchantment about the place; it was otherworldly, like stepping into a medieval storybook reserved only for witches and dragons, potions and mandrakes.

A gust of wind picks up her shawl and begins to carry it through the shrubbery. Manoeuvring through trees and bush, she chases after it, her eyes darting to and fro avoiding branches hidden within the thick curtain of jade leaves. She continues to run, her bare feet pounding against the damp mossy undergrowth as the shawl escapes from her clutches once again. Her pursuit continues into a small clearing until the trunk of a colossal evergreen impedes her shawl.

There at the base of this tree, a sliver of light illuminates a small plant nestled amongst the foliage, its small white flowers gazing up at her. She smiles, reaches for the plant and pulls it from the ground, at first it resists, why would it want to be plucked away from such beauty. Then slowly it releases its grip from the earth and pulls away. She takes the shrub to her nose and breathes in its pungent vapour, her nose twitching in delight at the first sign of wood garlic in the forest. She places the shrub in her basket and navigates her way back home, satiated by the exhilaration of her discovery.

Wood Garlic Tagliatelle

For me Wood Garlic elicits imaginings of lush green woods and enchanted forests. Its mythical characteristic evokes a sense old-worldliness, like it stepped straight out of the pages of a fairytale. It may also have something to do with the fact that Wood Garlic; also know as Ramsons, Wild Garlic or Bear Garlic is commonly found in dark thickly wooded forests. And attached to this, is traditional folklore that believed it to ward away evil spirits and venomous creatures, commonly attributed to its strong pungent odour that permeated the surrounding air. There are forests in England and Ireland that are carpeted with blossoming Wood Garlic, and although the flowers are quite beautiful and have been likened to the Lily-of-the-Valley, its offensive odour deters many from picking them or even walking by them.

Cooking the leaves do reduced its pungency and only a small amount is used as it is quite potent. So I was quite surprised to find a pack of Wood Garlic flavoured Tagliatelle while browsing the aisles of Aldi Supermarkets with my mother. Of all places, this would not have been where I would have expected to find such a delicacy, as I had never been aware of Wood Garlic in the past, however I was adequately intrigued and decided to purchase it.

My researched uncovered, the smell and taste of Wood Garlic had been known to be powerful, so a simple unadulterated pasta dish was what I deemed appropriate. A quick glance into the fridge unearthed some Swiss Brown Mushrooms that seemed fit for the task.

The pasta is simple and satisfying and is best kept that way. The wood garlic itself was not at all overpowering as its descriptions suggest. There are slight nuances of garlic and musky flavours, but nothing at all of the odour and pungency that the plant is believed to possess.

Wood Garlic Tagliatelle with Swiss Brown Mushrooms

Garlic Mushroom Tagliatelle

1 pack Wood Garlic Tagliatelle
250g Swiss Brown Mushrooms sliced thickly
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Cook pasta, as per packet instructions.
Place some oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the garlic.
When the garlic is half cooked add the sea salt and chilli flakes.
Then add the mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms have absorbed the oil and have cooked.
Turn the heat off and then add the cooked and drained pasta to the pan and stir until the mushrooms are combined.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper


Sara said...

Sounds lovely, and your pictures are wonderful!

jules said...

wow....thanks for introducing me to the world of wood garlic...love the intro...very evocative

Tanna said...

I love your story!!! Photo is gorgeous. I'd say the mushrooms were a perfect choice for the wood garlic and the tagliatelle.

gilly said...

Beautiful writing - such vivid imagery, and very inspiring! This recipe sounds wonderful.

Rebecca said...

I love Aldi--you absolutely never know what you're going to find there! Your dish sounds (and looks) superb.

Bruno said...

Hi Jenjen,

Great photos and story! I've never heard of wood garlic. Thanks for sharing your discovery... I'll be on the look out for this pungent treat!


Veggies,Yarns & Tails said...

Beautiful,evocative post and this recipe looks YUMMMMMMY. Thanks for sharing. G

jenjen said...

Sara- Thanks so much!

Jules- it's nice to uncover different foodie finds, and this was definitely one for me.

Tanna- you're right, I find that mushrooms go very well with many kinds of pasta, they are so versatile.

Gilly- Thank you, I wanted to convey the sense of wood garlic without describing its flavourstoo much, im glad you liked it.

Rebecca- I too am a sucker for Aldi, there is such a variety of things you can find from shampoo to soup to DVD players!

Bruno- definitely keep your nose out for this treat!

Geraldine- thanks...it tasted delicious and its something I am going to make more often as it only took 15 minutes to make!

Rachel said...

i love the mushrooms!

geneve said...

I'd never heard of wood garlic before - love your descriptions of it! I'll start looking for it at specialty stores.

sher said...

What a wonderful post!! And the pictures are incredible. I could practically taste the pasta.

Anita said...


I love the piece you wrote at the beginning - felt like I was right in the forest seeing and smelling everything. And your dish looks scrumptious!

Helene said...

Now I really wished I could eat pasta, I am a sans gluten kinda girl (yes, all my treat are approved by everybody else but me...). This pasta dish literally made me drool!

Mary said...

Thank you for the wonderful introduction to wood garlic. The photos are simple mouthwatering!

chocolatesuze said...

wow dude that was such a great photo and i loved your post!

jenjen said...

Rachel- Ditto that!

Geneve- good luck with your search, it's definitely worth it.

Sher- oh I wish I could have given you some, it was truly delicious.

Anita- Thank you so much, im glad you enjoyed it.

Helene- that is unfortunate, although there are many gluten-free pastas that are just as yummy. But if you ask me, i do enjoy a good dose of gluten in my food.

Mary- i'm glad to be of some help, i hope you get to encounter it sometime.

Chocolate Suze- thanks! I went to POTR at Northmead on the w'end...were u working then?

bea at La tartine gourmande said...

I had never heard about wood tagliatelle before, how interesting! It surely is a nice way to get back to nature! Lovely idea!

mae said...

Beautifully written post for such beautifully photographed dish. I am so intrigued. I'll be checking the pasta/noodles aisles in Jersey for this. Thanks for the recipe. :)

Audrey said...

Inspirational post jenjen. It made me want to have tagliatelle and mushrooms, which is exactly what I made last night. Thanks for that

ann said...

ho-lee crap, i just nearly plotzed!
i've never wished i was supping on what i just saw on a blog more than that dish
dear me, you've hit all my happy notes in one dish
i am SO making this as soon as it cools off up here in NYC!

chocolatesuze said...

haha i was working on sat morning but in the kitchen so i dont get to see customers unless they come up to the bar. hope you had good food and service!