When the first storm rolled through, I stayed up all night with my window open, listening to the drops pouring down with a huge grin on my face. I felt like an ancient farmer, rejoicing and thanking the gods for this blessing. Yes of course California had been in a horrendous drought and now we all get to take long, guilt-free showers in the morning. But I was giddy for another reason. Mushroom season.
Mushroom foraging is like treasure hunting. You sneak around the woods, eyes downward, seeking rare and valuable fungi that grow in cool dark areas. Discovering a patch of prized mushrooms is like catching a big fish. Your adrenaline starts pumping and your awareness heightens. Sometimes all you see is a single mushroom until you get low and focus and suddenly they are everywhere.
Recently we ventured off into the Santa Cruz Mountains in search for chanterelles, the orange variety that are common in specialty food stores. We parked along a slow winding creek and within two minutes of putting our boots on we spotted our prize. Fresh and golden orange, with the smell of apricots and earthy spice. We kept our voices to a minimum to avoid giving away the location of our score. Mushroom patches are like secret surf spots, the fewer people that know about them the better. We picked and trimmed the dirt of the fresh chanties, giggling about how quickly we found them. Once the sun had retired and our stomachs were barking, it was time to make a move.
A quick stop at the local fish market and our menu was set:
Bacon wrapped scallops with chanterelles on a bed of kale from the garden. My dear friend Colin is one hell of a chef. This was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
The next day I went for an afternoon stroll to my favorite spot in the redwoods. To my amazement and delight, there were mushrooms EVERYWHERE. I took a few Chantrelles home and put them on fresh artichoke bread, pairing them with a crisp Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc. Life is good during mushroom season :)