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California: Hunt mushrooms (or just eat them) during Mendocino fest

California: Hunt mushrooms (or just eat them) during Mendocino fest
November is mushroom time in California's Mendocino County. Visitors can forage for porcinis, shown here, and attend winemaker dinners during the two-week festival. (Paul Kozal)

When going wild-mushroom hunting, best to go with someone who knows his or her stuff. Next month in Mendocino County, you can ride a horse or mountain bike or take a train to hunt down chanterelles, porcinis and morels with the pros.

Or you can just sit back and have them served to you on a plate.

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The Mushroom, Wine and Beer Festival around the Northern California county packs in cultural and foraging events from Nov. 7 to 16. The area known for its redwoods also is home to more than 3,000 types of mushrooms that thrive in late October rains, the event's website says.

Will rains come this year? Who knows? But the festival parties on.

Mushroom seller and expert Eric Schramm (often called simply the mushroom man) says that of the 3,000 species, only about 500 are edible.

On Nov. 8, visitors who want to find edible mushrooms can hop on the Skunk Train at Fort Bragg or Willits that runs through the redwoods. Passengers participate in foraging hikes, and sample wine, beer and cider on board before the presentation of a mushroom cook-off. (Schramm is one of the judges).

The ride runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $105; proceeds benefit the Mendocino County Museum. Info at Skunk Train, (707) 964-6371.

Other events include daily horseback rides at Ricochet Ridge Ranch each day of the festival, mountain bike rides with Mendocino Bike Sprite on Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 15-16, and a mushroom workshop at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

And there are a bunch of winemaker dinners at places like Buckhorn Boonville and McNab Ridge Winery too.

Check out the full schedule and hotel packages at the Mushroom, Wine and Beer Festival website.

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