This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to taste some of the best dishes the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group (SRG) had to offer for Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest 2015 event. Very familiar with their annual Garlic Festival in April, I was shocked that I hadn’t heard of their mushroom extravaganza before, let alone it being their 21st annual event! Throughout the month of September, diners will be able to order a variety of dishes from their Mushroom Harvest menu, as well have the opportunity to partake in numerous schedule events such as Mushroom Cooking Classes, “Mushroom Walk, Cook & Eat”, and exclusive dinners. “Out of the woods”, on to your plate, and into your belly! How could I not?
To start off the night, our host Paula Colvin welcomed the group to this year’s menu tasting at Sorrentino’s south location. We were in for a treat: nine sampler courses, all of which (including dessert!) featuring a variety of different mushrooms, with SRG Corporate Executive Chef Sonny Sung available to answer our questions; and guest speaker Martin Osis from the Mycological Society to talk to us about all things fungi! Having just acquiring a taste for mushrooms, I was looking forward to learning more about what I detested as a child!
Mushrooms are actually closer to meats versus plants, high in protein and lower in carbohydrates and calories. What’s fascinating to Martin Osis is how different cultures will use different mushrooms with different methods of preparations to bring out its unique natural flavours. For example, you’d rarely or never see a shiitake mushroom fried or mixed in with cream. You’re more likely to see porcini mushrooms for that and save those shiitake for a nice umami-rich broth! Some cultures, like the Native North Americans, hardly ever ate mushrooms at all, instead utilizing it for their medicinal value. For those who would like a nice slow start, Martin recommends the Portobello, a larger crimini mushroom with a lot of meaty flavours. Perfect for grilling!
Our first plate was actually all four courses at once, a relief for me because nine individual courses would have taken us quite a bit of time to get through! The “Zuppa” or soup course was a nice creamy wild mushroom soup, infused with sherry and topped with a crispy tuile of Parmigiano cheese and cream drizzle. Absolutely loved how the sherry cut through the creamy base and a wonderful first bite! The soup base itself is actually available for purchase ($10 for fifteen 8 oz. servings) at all Sorrentino’s locations this month and perfect for easing into the fall season!
Insalata: Mushroom Salad (butter leaf lettuce, warm mix of crimini, button, yellow chanterelle, pancetta, goat cheese, lemon vinaigrette)
Antipasto: Wild Mushroom Frittelle (with porcini aioli) and Stuffed Portobello (garlic, goat cheese pesto, pine nuts, honey balsamic vinaigrette, mixed greens). Pairing (Stuffed Portobello): La Marca Prosecco Veneto, Italy
The risotto, a Creamy Carnaroli rice with lobster mushroom, grilled shrimp and Parmigiano-Reggiano was a unique dish for me, having never tried a lobster mushroom before. Surprisingly enough, the reddish-orange hue responsible for its name, isn’t actually a mushroom but is a parasitic fungus that grows on certain species of mushrooms, such as Russula mushrooms. I was picturing a Godzilla mushroom at this point in the dinner. A delicious Godzilla-like mushroom, firm and dense, withstanding a variety of cooking methods such as frying. Beautiful to look at and equally delectable!
The Portobella and Crimini Ravioli (egg pasta stuffed with oven-roasted Portobello and crimini mushrooms, onions, roasted garlic, mozzarella and Parmigiano, with sautéed mushrooms, garlic lemon butter white wine sauce and crumbled crispy pancetta) was one of my favourites of the night and easily something I’d order off the Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest 2015 menu. Pairing: Santa Cristina Le Maestrelle, an exclusive blend to the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group.
Secondi: Veal and Mushrooms (medallions of veal, wild mushroom mix, salted caramel drizzle). Pairing: Tenuta San Guido Le Difese, another wine blend exclusive to Sorrentino’s.
Secondi: Catch of the Month (Cobia fillet poached in San Benedetto mineral water, sautéed chanterelles, thyme lemon Chardonnay reduction). Chanterelle mushrooms are a nice and light variety of mushroom, perfect for pairing with white fish. Although not grown in Alberta, they’re easily found amongst our neighbours in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Oregon. Because the night was a sampling of the multiple dishes offered for Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest 2015, the truffled mashed potatoes and vegetables that would normally come with either secondi dishes were omitted. Shucks, because even the sides incorporate mushrooms and sound yummy! You can expect larger portions for all the dishes mentioned in the post, that’s for sure!
Candy cap mushrooms, much like truffles, are used as flavourings due to their strong aromatics. Their flavour and aromas are usually compared to maple syrup, making it perfect for the dolce (dessert) for the night: a Grand Marnier rice pudding, poached Candy Cap mushrooms, Amarone jus. Like the lobster mushroom, this was a first for me. Have you ever had mushrooms in your dessert? Probably not! And now you can!
You can participate in Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest 2015 until the end of September at any of their locations (Downtown, South, West, St. Albert, and Little Italy), as well as Bistecca. Menu options differ at each location, so be sure to check their website to see if a particular dish is available to order. Make sure to also check out their upcoming events as the love of mushrooms continues outside of the restaurant! An amazing and mushroom-filled evening, showcasing numerous mushroom varieties with different methods of preparation. Even a mushroom-shy diner would be able to find a dish they’ll enjoy I’m sure! Thank you to Paula Colvin for giving me the chance to sample some of Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest 2015 best dishes and to Chef Sonny Sung and Chef Pankaj Bharty (Sorrentino’s South), the kitchen and front-of-house team for a fantastic dinner and beautiful service, and to Martin Osis from the Mycological Society for all my newly acquired mushroom knowledge!
Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to attend the menu tasting of Sorrentino’s 21st Annual Mushroom Harvest 2015. I was not expected to post about my experience. All opinions are of my own.