Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Il Corvo mushroom farm harvest dinner at [storefront] Olson Kundig Architects – Pioneer Square, Seattle

Posted on: Monday 19 March 2012

A collaboration between CityLab7Olson Kundig Architects and Schuchart/Dow, the mushroom farm was installed at [storefront] in Pioneer Square.

Funded by Invoking the Pause, the Fertile Grounds project by CityLab7 partnered with local cafés, Caffe Umbria, Starbucks and Zeitgeist, to reuse coffee grounds to grow oyster mushrooms.

One of the events of the pop up concept was a mushroom farm harvest dinner hosted by Il Corvo.

A trough displayed the coffee grounds at the front window.

The structure is built with reclaimed plywood and cocooned in plastic.

22°C (71°F) temperature and 88% humidity, the subtropical atmosphere within the tent was calibrated for growing oyster mushrooms.

Bricks of coffee grounds were inoculated with mycelium and the spores germinated into fairy floss (cotton candy) like fibres, weaving a web on the surface of the caffeine soil.

Clusters of oyster mushrooms sprouted through the perforated skin.

The oyster mushrooms grow exponentially towards the end of the six week period.

These wide gills were ready for harvesting.

An illustrated mind map of urban food systems connections.

‘Counting and cultivating co-benefits of coffee culture.’

Handwritten comments were tacked on the wall.

Can you decipher these cute, neat notes? ‘I like to plant blueberries. I like to plant strawberries.’

And in an elegant script, ‘eating is the life’!

[storefront] is a bare space for creativity and thus a mobile kitchen was a couple of portable gas cookers.

The dining table and benches are made with salvaged wood, lovely lumbers that accentuated the sustainability theme.

We sipped Cava (Spanish sparkling wine), and nibbled on porcini and Parmesan grissini.

We settled into our seats and bottles of Elena Walch Schiava were poured. The first course was a simple salad of leafy greens, fennel, pine nuts, raw oyster mushrooms and vinaigrette. It was fresh and zingy, the crunch of the lettuce and pine nuts paired well with the firm and meaty mushrooms.

‘Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.’

Chef Mike Easton stirred the pot of risotto with an oar wooden spoon.

Cooked in porcini stock, seasoned with thyme and a bottle of wine, the oyster mushroom risotto was superb. A viscous bowl of comfort food, we savoured each spoonful of the vegetarian main dish.

Chewy discs of chocolate hazelnut cookies concluded a special meal. 1.5 kg of Nutella was in the batch of cookies for twenty people!

Sincere thanks to CityLab7, Il Corvo and Olson Kundig Architects for a unique experience!

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