Braised Mushrooms with Tagliatelle

This is my post for an obsession of mine, Cook the Books Club.  This post marks my debut as a co-host for the group.

Please read on…


“It’s about loving your life and treating the life with the respect it deserves.   Even when it is hard… and it is hard a lot.”
—Marlena de Blasi


I know that this is an interview done in Poland and really doesn’t have anything to do with Venice but it is the only interview I could find with de Blasi.


A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena de Blasi marks the beginning of a another minor obsession for me.  When I find an author I like, I tend to read everything she has written.   I do research and look for articles and interviews about the said author.  I almost become a stalker.  In fact, when I was first asked to be a co-host for CTB, I knew this was the book I wanted to start with.  In those days, posts were still judged and I sat about trying to get in touch with de Blasi.   I went so far as to find an antique dealer in Texas that travels to Italy twice a year and has contact with her.   Via email, I corresponded with the dealer and she promised she would get a note to de Blasi on the next trip.  (She apparently wants to be out of the lime-light now because I never got a response back.)    I was relieved when I found out I would not have to find a judge, but I was disappointed that I would not be corresponding with the author.   Thanks Rachel, Deb, and Simona for helping me not turn into a stalker and doing away with the judging portion of CTB.

Now, let me just get this off my chest, too.   I know there will be some people that didn’t like the book.   I also know that posting the above video may make some people wonder about her.  (She has an interesting voice, doesn’t she?)

There are some who question the sincerity and truthfulness of her writing.   I, for one, can get lost in her prose and food references.   Does she depict an ideal world where people love and laugh together over food and wine?  Yes, she does, but I would like to think that we all should strive to create such an environment.  I love the romance, I love the surreal nature of her writing, I love the fairy tale she creates.  (I also want to grow old and wear bohemian skirts with work boots and wander along the landscape of Italy.)

If you loved the book, you will enjoy her other adventures in Italy with Fernando:    A Thousand Days in Tuscany, The Lady in the Palazzo,  That Summer in Sicily, and Antonia and her Daughters.    (Seriously, how can you not love a book with a chapter entitled “There’s a Venetian in my Bed”?)  


If you didn’t love this book, maybe you can peruse through some of her published cookbooks:   Regional Foods of Northern Italy (a James Beard Foundation Award finalist) and Regional Foods of Southern Italy.

Enough debate about the book, let’s get on with the food.

with text

I definitely wanted to make something regional even if I didn’t forage my own wild mushrooms.  I did, however, pick fresh sage from the garden.

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Braised Mushrooms with Tagliatelle
based on Wild Mushrooms Braised in LateHarvest Wine from A Thousand Days in Venice

2 T. butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
8 oz. sliced baby portabellos
1 shallot, minced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c. Moscato or other late-harvest white wine
1 c. heavy cream
4-5 sage leaves
fresh Tagliatelle
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
more fresh sage leaves, for garnish

In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt butter with the olive oil.  Add the mushrooms and the shallots, tossing them to coat.   Reduce heat and saute until the mushrooms begin to “give up their juices.”  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add wine and continue to braise for about 20 minutes.  (Most of the wine and the juices will be absorbed back into the mushrooms.)

While the mushrooms are braising, place cream in a smaller sauce to heat gently.  Add the sage to the cream and let it infuse.   Also start the pasta water to boiling.     When the cream is simmering, remove from the heat and cover.

Cook pasta.

Discard sage leaves from the cream and add the cream to the mushrooms and continue to slowly braise.  (Reduce the cream for 2-3 minutes.)  Re-season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Toss with the cooked and drained pasta.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan and garnish with sage leaves, if desired.   Serve.

I used a recipe from Saveur for Homemade Taglietelle.

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Ah, Venice……

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This turned out to be a perfect recipe to enjoy al fresco on the patio on a cool Autumn evening.   As I sat gazing over our back yard, I tried to imagine the canals of Venice, the gondolas, and the glorious Venetian food.

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The round-up should be up by tomorrow.   Please check it out at at Cook the Books homepage.

Please join Cook the Books for the October/November selection:  That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx and hosted by Simona of briciole. 

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