In Search of Fungi in Sonoma
If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I have an obsession with the mushroom and the truffle, in all their variations. Their earthy flavors just set my heart aflutter. The wild mushrooms that I have cooked with have always been purchased from stores or farmers markets, however I have always wanted to learn how to forage with an expert. We are in Sonoma this weekend, scoping out our future move out here, and my friend Peter Brown, an amazing chef and overall great guy, offered to take us out hiking near his home in Healdsburg, where mushrooms grow abundantly. It was chilly and raining when we headed out, weather that black trumpets love. Peter showed us how to distinguish the shiny black mushrooms from the shiny black leaves, and it definitely takes some training of the eye. Here is a picture of a mushroom in the leaves before we picked it. Can you see it?
We hunted up and down hillsides and found clusters of mushrooms that grow in “veins”, so if you find one, you often find many in a line around it. We found the black trumpets in abundance, but we were also lucky enough to find black chanterelles, which look like the trumpets from above but they are distinguished by the veins underneath, like chanterelles. At the end of our hunt, Peter lead us to an area where two beautiful golden chanterelles glistened, awaiting our arrival. It was a great way to conclude a very fruitful search. That night Peter created a feast of an herb-crusted rib roast, sauteed trumpets, polenta with trumpets and sauteed swiss chard with roasted butternut squash. It was a meal to take off the chill and appreciate good friends and fine fungi.