Mushrooms are marvelous to stuff in ravioli, put on pizza, toss with pasta, stock in stews and roast with juicy meats. This we know.
It’s prime mushroom season, now, and prime time for mushroom hunters to trek the woods across Northern California, looking for their own harvests. This we know, too.
Yet while there are some 3,000 types of fungi thriving in the North Coast area through the September through May season, only about 500 kinds are safely edible. This, everyone should know.
Which makes this weekend’s “Forage for Fungi” at Timber Cove Inn in Timber Cove/Jenner even more interesting. Renowned mycologist and mushroom book author David Arora is hosting a mushroom appreciation trip at Timber Cove Inn Jan. 4-6, where he will lead 20 lucky explorers on a trek around the woods near Fort Ross Vineyard. Through the adventure, hunters will learn how to identify the difference between candy cap mushrooms (good, tasting a bit like maple syrup) and death caps (lethal).
Because education always sinks in a little better in the lap of luxury, after the foraging, Timber Cove Inn’s chef Ben St. Clair will prepare an elaborate mushroom dinner, working with porcini, chanterelles, morels, clam shells, hedgehogs, and other assorted wild finds. Just a few of the dishes include a salad of warm chanterelles tossed with crispy pancetta, toasted pine nuts, Redwood Hill smoked goat cheddar; and a plate of local cheeses and pickled wild hedgehogs.
A few reservations are still available for the adventure, which includes two nights’ accommodations in a plush room at the cliffside inn, the mushroom hunting trip, the dinner paired with Fort Ross Vineyard wines, discussions with Arora, and a commemorative menu of the evening.
Guests will also be able to take home any excess fungi gathered during their hunt, promising plenty of ravioli in their delicious future.
Details: “Forage for Fungi” at Timber Cove Inn, Jan. 4-6, 2013. Cost starts at $649 per couple. 21780 California 1, Timber Cove/Jenner, 707-847-3231, timbercoveinn.com.
Tip: It can be a long, winding drive to Timber Cove/Jenner, on Hwy. 1 snaking along the edge of the coastal cliffs. Relax and enjoy the scenery, by reserving a private Limo or Town Car to take you to the Inn and back.