Great places to indulge in Mendocino's wild mushroom madness
By Mary Forgione
Sep 26, 2017 | 6:00 AM
November is wild mushroom season in Northern California’s Mendocino County. Varieties like candy cap, chanterelle, porcini and hedgehog start to pop up — and so do mushroom hunts, mushroom cooking classes and the Mushroom, Wine and Beer Festival. A word of warning: Don’t go foraging on your own. There are thousands of varieties that grow in the area, but only about 500 types are edible. Best to go with a pro.
Forage for funghi
Go out with experts in search of mushrooms on the 5,300-acre campus of the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center. The 10 a.m.-to-noon hunt Nov. 4 will take you on an educational walk through woodlands; tickets cost $20. You can stick around for the Harvest Celebration dinner that will feature local wine and mushroom-themed dishes (5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 4, $60 per person). Info: Hopland Research and Extension Center’s Harvest Celebration, 4070 University Road, Hopland; (707) 744-1424
Cook them up
Spend half a day looking for wild mushrooms and then learning how to cook with them. Assaggiare Mendocino, which offers catering, consulting and cooking classes, leads a session that’s part field work, part kitchen work. Dishes will be paired with local wine, beer and ciders. It starts at 10 a.m. and lasts about five hours; $65 per person. Info: Assaggiare Mendocino, 17451 Jade Court, Fort Bragg; (707) 961-9687 or email email@example.com.
Party with locals
What goes better with wild mushrooms than local brews and vino? The Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival runs from Nov. 3 to 12 with hosted events all over Mendocino County. Download the free brochure, which comes with a handy map of the area and a full list of events, including winemaker dinners. The famed vegan Ravens Restaurant at the Stanford Inn in Mendocino serves a five-course dinner with a mushroom-centric menu and local Yamakiri Winery wines. $95, reservations required, 7 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 11, www.ravensrestaurant.com, (707) 937-5615. Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery serves a dinner with its wines plus dishes tied to the funghi frenzy from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 11. $125, www.jaxonkeys.com, (707) 964-9010.
Take time for tea
Don’t worry, the tea isn’t mushroom-flavored. The Glendeven Inn will be serving a traditional tea with creations by the chef made especially for the festival using locally foraged chanterelles, porcinis, candy caps, and others. Swing by the 19th century former farmhouse from 3 to 5 p.m. Nov. 5 and 11. Tea service costs $25 to $35. Info: Glendeven Inn, 8205 N. Highway 1, Little River; (707) 937-0083
Try a lick of this
Hand-made ice cream is always a treat. In keeping with the spirit of the harvest, you can try the mushroom-flavored ice cream at Cowlick’s in Fort Bragg. It’s made with locally harvested candy cap mushrooms. A single scoop of artisan ice cream costs $3.60 and an extra 50 cents for a house-made waffle cone. Don’t worry, you can always switch to Rockiest Road or Mint Chocolate Chip if it’s a bit much. Info: Cowlick’s, 250 N. Main St., Fort Bragg, (707) 962-9271
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