Recently, I travelled to Périgueux, a lovely city in the gastronomic Périgord region, for the Gourmand Book Fair, where I spent three days signing my first book and generally having a great time! Not only did I meet my readers, but I was also lucky enough to have dinner in an exceptional restaurant, the Café Louise. The food was so delicious that after my first meal there, I returned the next day to try out other dishes. One of them was pasta with wild mushrooms. Maryse, the remarkable chef at the restaurant, is a rare gem: she’s charming, highly talented, and attentive to what her clients want.
This dish is full of savors: pasta in a creamy wild mushroom sauce, ground walnuts, Parmesan, and smoked duck breast all nestling on a bed of arugula. Definitely a dish you can make at home, but if you’re in Périgueux, head straight for Café Louise at 10 Place de l’Ancien Hôtel de Ville to enjoy the original dish and meet Maryse and Olivier, her husband.
Note: If you can’t get your hands on all three types of wild mushroom, make life simple and use what you can find.
Recipe for Café Louise’s pasta dish (serves 4)
For the mushroom sauce
• 2 tablespoons goose or duck fat
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 5 oz. / 150 g golden chanterelle mushrooms
• 5 oz. / 200 g chanterelle mushrooms (also known as girolles)
• 5 oz. / 150 g black trumpet mushrooms (also known as horn of plenty)
• 1 2/3 cups / 400 ml heavy cream
• 2 heaping tablespoons ground walnuts
• 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
• Salt and pepper
• A few strands of chives, snipped
• 14 oz. / 400 g dried pasta
• Sliced smoked duck breast (as much as you want, but at least xx slices per person)
• Arugula (rocket) leaves for each plate
Gently melt the goose or duck fat in a large frying pan. This is typical of the cooking traditions of the region, but if you prefer, you can substitute olive oil.
Add the crushed garlic and let it splatter gently over medium heat.
To prepare the golden chanterelle mushrooms, you may want to remove the base of the stem, but there’s no need to wash them.
Into the frying pan they go.
To prepare the chanterelle mushrooms, use a mushroom brush or paintbrush to remove the sand and earth. It’s important not to wash them: they would absorb too much water and lose their subtle taste. Don’t worry: it doesn’t take long.
Cut them into pieces and add them to the pan.
Stir carefully. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the sauce thickens slightly.
Stir in some of the chives and remove from the heat.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. I always shorten the cooking time on the packet by 1 minute when I’m heating my pasta in sauce afterwards. Set aside about ½ cup / 125 ml of the cooking water. As soon as the pasta is done and drained, transfer it directly into the pan of sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking water.
Stir carefully over low heat. The sauce must remain creamy and coat the pasta. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
In each plate, arrange a bed of arugula leaves.
Serve a portion of pasta.
Add as much smoked duck breast as you like. I was lucky enough to find the long slices that Café Louise uses, but the smaller ones are equally tasty!
Serve immediately with a little extra chopped chives, Parmesan, and ground walnuts. You can even pretend you’re in the Périgord.