Food & Drink: Fungus fun

Where to forage in 2016

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Mushroom foraging season is upon us!

By Tanya Henry

This is the time of year to celebrate all things fungus! From guided mushroom foraging hikes to a fungus fair in West Marin, there are plenty of ways to get your “fungus” on in January.

The group ForageSF will be offering eight guided hikes throughout January and February in the Point Reyes National Seashore area. The group, established by Iso Rabins in 2008, meets in Inverness and then caravans to specific foraging spots. The guided hikes teach mushroom lovers about how and where fungus grows and which types are good enough to safely eat. The cost is $90 per person, and the outings, held rain or shine, last around three to four hours. A full list of required and optional supplies are emailed to participants when they book their adventure. To learn more, or to book a trip, visit bit.ly/1ROcqr9.

If you still can’t get enough, head over to the Bear Valley Visitor Center (a half-mile west of Olema) on Sunday, January 3 for their 11th annual Point Reyes National Seashore Fungus Fair from 10am to 4pm. Speakers will cover topics that include Forest Fires and Fungi, The Art and History of Mushroom Dyes and Zen and Art of Mushroom Hunting. To learn more, visit nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/events_fungusfair.htm.

Perhaps the most dedicated and enthusiastic advocate for mushroom foraging is Kevin Sadlier, co-owner of Green Jeans Nursery in Mill Valley. Given his years of experience and love for foraging, it’s not all that surprising that he’s led an effort in creating The Mycological Society of Marin. Earlier this month, the group held their first meeting at the Mill Valley Library, and future meetings will be held the second Wednesday of each month at the same location. Michael Wood, co-author of California Mushrooms, and Connie Green, co-author of The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes, are scheduled to speak at upcoming meetings, and the group will offer organized forays, an annual fungus festival, cultivation seminars, scholarships and camping and cooking events. David Campbell—truffle and edible mushroom expert—is serving as the group’s first president, and his company, MycoVentures, offers local mushroom forays as well as truffle tours in Italy and Croatia. To learn more, email [email protected]

Finally, though not related to wild mushrooms, pioneering Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. in Sebastopol cultivates more specialty mushrooms than any other farm in America. Their impressive operation, founded in 1977, has provided a model of “best practices” for other growers around the country. They have also compiled a delicious collection of mushroom recipes that range from savory appetizers to a sweet dessert and much in between. For fabulous fungi inspiration, visit blog.mycopia.com.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Tanya,
    I can see that your article is primarily about foraging for food and commercial mushroom events, but since you did mention our Fair, I though that I would clarify a few points.

    The Pt. Reyes Fungus Fair, a free annual event put on by the Bay Area Mycological Society or BAMS (PRNS is our host, not the driver of this event) has been a wonderful, extremely popular and cooperative way to introduce the public to the love and science of wild mushrooms. Last weekend was our best Fair ever: over 200 people showed up on Saturday, to help us collect and learn about fungi for our wild mushroom displays outside of the Visitor Center on Sunday. Students and Professors from UC Berkeley, as well as BAMS members and Co-Founders David Rust and myself, talked to the public about their finds as they were brought in to the Red Barn by the basketful. On Sunday, two SRO introductory lectures were held in the auditorium, and folks lingered over our
    detailed educational displays. A great time was had by all!

    Edibles, however, were in rather short supply.

    We attract a huge crowd of Marin and BA locals interested in learning about fungi (without a pay-wall!), and also delight many International Visitors to the park, who are well familiar with mushrooms from their native lands. This has been a remarkable partnership between BAMS and PRNS, the only National Park to so strongly support the ethical collection of wild mushrooms, an ongoing wild mushroom census and encouraging natural history of mushroom education.

    I am not sure where ForageSF goes to hunt at Pt. Reyes, since the PRNS does not allow commercial hunting, and none of the State Parks who used to allow hunting on the Pt. Reyes Peninsula do so anymore. Maybe Isa has some private property up there? Know before you go!

    It is a pity that you didn’t do a bit more research before publishing this article … the talks that you cited were from last year’s Fair. Next time, feel free to contact either myself or PRNS directly for up to date and more complete information.

    I wish Kevin and Co. the very best in the creation of their new Marin based club. We hope to see you at one of our Pt. Reyes Fungus Fairs somewhere down the line! In 2006, BAMS was the first local mushroom club to branch off from the at one time exclusive Bay Area/SF mushroom club the MSSF; now there are apparently three! Glad to continue to be a leader in the progress of mushroom education in the Bay Area.

    But don’t just take my word for it. Check out this recent article here, published the Monday after our Fair:

    http://sfist.com/2016/01/04/point_reyes_mushroom_fair.php

    May the fungus be with you,

    Debbie Viess
    Bay Area Mycological Society
    http://www.bayareamushrooms.org

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