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Editor’s note: We regret to report that Casa Lucio has closed.

Horn of plenty, yellow foot, ox tongue, gray knight: the bewitching names are like something out of a fairy tale. But at Casa Lucio, in Sant Antoni, these are all mushrooms you might find on your plate, especially in autumn.

At Casa Lucio, Lucio Rodríguez runs the front of the house, which seats about 28 to 30 diners, while his wife, Maribel Usón, heads up the kitchen. The place itself might be small, but it abounds in charm, and Rodríguez and Usón have expansive culinary experience and imaginations. At the entry, you first encounter a bar lined with redolent cheeses, homemade pickles and marinated tidbits (figs and ham rolls, artichokes with wine, lemon and olive oil), cured sausages and various regional specialties, such as morcilla de Burgos. There are 56 wines and other drinks, excellent vermut included. This is Lucio’s domain, the perfect spot to land and savor some alone time before your dining companions arrive or to start a meal with a few tapas. Further in, tables are tucked away in intimate nooks, providing diners with a bit of cozy privacy.

There is no printed menu. Instead, Rodríguez explains to each table what Usón is cooking today. She works with patience, love and attention. “If you listen to the products,” she says, “they will tell you what they need.” She makes a number of traditional dishes, such as braised pork cheeks and callos, a stew of chickpeas with pork feet and stomach, which requires three to four hours of slow cooking. She also makes 15 different cod dishes and monkfish libritos, which is cut and opened up like the “little books” for which it is named and filled with ham, béchamel and red prawns.

But what you’ll notice most is how often mushrooms appear, sometimes as just a hint in the sauce, other times as the star ingredient. Caramelized ceps even show up in a mille-feuille pastry with cream! There can be as many as 12 different species, most from Catalonia and wild. But when the local season ends, Usón makes sure to keep a bit of that bounty in reserve. Some of the mushrooms are frozen or turned into concentrates or extracts. She also sources fungus from other European countries and might buy mushrooms from direct suppliers or from vendors such as Petràs in La Boquería.

This fall at Casa Lucio, we’ve already had a wonderful dish featuring llenega negra (Hygrophorus latitabundus), one of the most delicate mushrooms. It came with a beguilingly complex sauce made from leeks, onions and herbs with orange peel and juice and various vinegars and was garnished with truffles. We were thrilled to try the greixa, or cauliflower mushroom – which, to Usón, captures perfectly the essence of the Catalan forest floor – folded into creamy scrambled eggs. Usón loves black trumpets (trompetas de la mort), so they turn up in many dishes with cod or scampi, in cap i pota (a stew of pork head and leg) and with eggs. Eggs are also a vehicle for yellow foots and Gorgonzola, perhaps with some prawns, while cod and pork might also be cooked with llenegas. There might be an esparragada (chopped and sautéed vegetables, notably asparagus, but not only) with chanterelles or Caesar’s mushrooms. Out of season, dried moixernons (St. George’s mushrooms) from the Pyrenees are used in a terrific rabbit fricassee.

With so many varieties to try and so many delectable ways to try each of them, Casa Lucio rewards the repeat visitor. But it’s also the perfect place for a neophyte who is ready to discover the magic of mushrooms for herself.

These are some of the mushrooms that you can find at Casa Lucio, depending on the season and day (Catalan, Spanish, English and scientific names are given for each):

Rovellón – Níscalo – Saffron Milk Cup – Lactaire déliceux
Camagroc – Trompeta amarilla – Yellow Foot – Craterellus lutescens
Rosinyol – Rebozuelo, Chantarella – Golden Chanterelle – Cantharellus cibarius
Trompeta – Trompeta de la muerte – Horn of plenty – Craterellus cornucopioides
Múrgula – Colmenilla – Morchella – Morchella esculenta
Ou de Reig – Huevo de Rey – Caesar’s mushroom – Amanita caesaria
Cep – Boletus – Cep, Penny bun – Boletus edulis
Llenega negra – Llanega, Higróforo – Hygrophorus latitabundus
Greixa – Clavaria crispa o rizada – Cauliflower mushroom – Sparassis crispa
Peu de rata – Ramaria – Clustered coral – Ramaria botrytis
Fredolic – Negrilla – Gray Knight – Tricholoma terreum
Llengua de bou – Lengua de buey – Ox tongue – Fistulina hepatica

Editor’s note: It’s Mushroom Week at Culinary Backstreets, and today’s dispatch takes us to a tiny restaurant in Barcelona with a huge appetite for mushrooms.

  • October 14, 2013 Capped (0)
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  • November 30, 2012 Catalonia’s Magic Mushroom Season (0)
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