Thursday, November 3, 2011

Amanitas, Boletes, Chantrelles . . . Oh MY!!!

Mushroom season on the Mendocino Coast is in full swing. We've been enjoying the treasures of the forest and sharing them with others.
The Mendocino Wine and Mushroom Festival is a fun way to learn about the mushrooms and enjoy culinary delights with our local wild mushrooms. We host Mushroom Paddles to share our love and knowledge of the fruits of the forest with others. The day begins with Jeff and I collecting specimens in the forest. I then present a lesson on mushroom identification and ecology followed by a paddle on the Noyo River enjoying the fall scenery, wildlife and looking for wild mushrooms.
So what have we been finding in the forest?
Amanitas are just starting to pop-out. Many are familiar with Amanita muscaria aka fly agaric or Alice and Wonderland mushroom. These beauties add color and beauty to our forest but not to our dinner table. Many species of amanitas are toxic and some are even deadly.

This year we have had a bumper crop of boletes - Kings, Queens, Admirals, and Manzanita. The boletes are my favorite to find in the forest as they are quite stout and they are also my favorite for the table. I feel like a trophy buck hunter when I bag a big-un.

I like to dry saute them and eat them as a side dish. On a bountiful year, I will dry them and put them in burgers/soups/stews. This year I have been finding lots of admiral boletes - these ones have lemony flavor and are great with chicken.
Chantrelles are a favorite choice edible that grows well in our forests.
I like to collect them and eat them in just about everything from omelets to pasta and rice dishes and my personal favorite homemade chantrelle pizza. Piacis in Fort Bragg makes a great pie and usually has wild mushroom specials that are scrumptious.

PS Candy Caps are just starting to pop out as well. Mushroom ice cream any one? Sounds totally gross even to a mushroom head like me, but it is delicious and my favorite flavor. It is made from the Candy Cap mushroom which is a rare form of milky cap that grows prolifically in the forests of the Mendocino Coast. Cowlicks in Fort Bragg makes a delicious ice cream. I use them in pancakes and muffins, but my favorite baked good has been a special recipe that I have developed for Candy Cap Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies.

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