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Wild About Mushrooms — mycoventures: Foraging is a great adventure, though as mycophagist David Campbell notes, it can very easily lead to perilous consumption if you don’t know what you’re picking. It's also important to forage legally. As Campbell notes, “Aside from the good fortune of occasional welcome access to private lands, we most often visit public lands where mushroom collecting is allowed. Salt Point State Park is a particularly popular location for many mushroom enthusiasts, and we secure group permits there about once a month during the mushroom season.” Campbell's forays focus on the fungally fertile woods along the Sonoma coast, and after the hunt, the edible mushrooms are made into lunch by chef Julie Schreiber. The next date is February 3. mycoventures.com.
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Heather Cleveland of San Francisco collects pigs ears, (Gomphus clavatus) part of the Chanterell mushroom family at Salt Point State Park on the Sonoma Coast. (Photo by Kent Porter)
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Bill Cleveland of San Francisco, left, talks mushrooms with Patrick Hamilton at Salt Point State Park. (Photo by Kent Porter)
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Relish Culinary Adventures: Owner Donna del Rey hosts mushroom forays in the Healdsburg area, hunting with experts like Campbell and Schreiber (February 9), or chef-forager Elissa Rubin-Mahon (January 22 and February 17). Guests hike and learn the fundamentals of edible wild mushroom foraging, including what terrain and mushroom type to look for. Then, the group returns to the Relish kitchen for a cooking class and lunch featuring a variety of fresh and dry wild and exotic mushrooms — including, usually, that delectable candy cap that tastes like maple syrup. relishculinary.com
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Elissa Rubin-Mahon prepares a wild rice with black trumpet mushrooms, pine nuts, caramelized onions, dried cranberries and kale dish at Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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Wild rice with black trumpet mushrooms, pine nuts, caramelized onions, dried cranberries and kale dish prepared at Relish Culinary Adventures in Healdsburg. (Photo by Christopher Chung)
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Mycologist David Arora: The local expert and author has been teaching guests about wild mushrooms since the early 1970s, and he now leads periodic foraging adventures in addition to hosting local mushroom identification and tasting seminars. These are fascinating voyages into the forests, poking under mossy logs and seeing first-hand the skills that led Arora to write his acclaimed field guides, "All That the Rain Promises and More" and “Mushrooms Demystified." He’ll help you find prettily named Plum & Custards, shrimp russulas that actually smell like seafood, witches’ butter that looks like frilly jellyfish, and the wonderfully named hideous Gomphidius. davidarora.com
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Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA): Members enjoy monthly meetings, often featuring nationally recognized speakers, local wild mushroom-hunting forays, poisonous mushroom identification training, and an annual three-day SOMA Camp in Occidental (January 19-21) with forays, speakers, and workshops. Some fungi fun includes mushroom crafts like yarn dyeing and papermaking. somamushrooms.org (Pictured here, SOMA founder and adviser Darvin DeShazer)
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Gourmet Mushrooms/Mycopia: Mycopia's mushroom farm in Sebastopol is hosting a festival open house, food and wine tasting party, and fundraiser on April 28. Proceeds from tour ticket and mushroom sales benefit the Ceres Community Project of Sebastopol, a nonprofit that teaches teens how to cook nutrient-dense meals for people struggling with illness. 2901 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, 707-823-1743, mycopia.com
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Mycolab Solutions: Brother Wyatt and Hunter Bryson, owners of mushroom jerky company Jewels of the Forest in Sebastopol, host educational programs throughout the year, such as an Introduction to Growing Mushrooms class at the Santa Rosa Finley Center on January 26. mycolabsolutions.com, Jewels of the Forest, 175 Pleasant Hill Ave. N., Sebastopol, 707-326-6308, shroomjerky.com.
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Sporgy: Another mushroom jerky company, Sporgy, debuted last year, with owners and husband-and-wife team Adam Alexander and Carlee Leonhard showcasing smoked, marinated maitakes in flavors like barbecue, wine-thyme, and Mexican mole. The Healdsburg-crafted snacks can be found at farmers markets in Healdsburg, Windsor, Cloverdale, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol, plus shops like Shelton’s Natural Foods and Jimtown Store. Sporgy, 707-408-3534, sporgymushrooms.com.
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What's your secret mushroom spot? If you're feeling generous, let us know in the comments. Courtesy of Sporgy Mushrooms Facebook.