Mushroom Hunting in Mendocino

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By Deirdre Bourdet

If, like me, you missed this year's Wine and Mushroom Festival in Mendocino (November 5-14th) don't delay your shroom-hunting expedition until next November.  Many other opportunities to stalk the wild mushroom await you in the coming months! 

The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg maintain an unbelievable variety of flora on their grounds.  In addition to the meticulous formal gardens, dense pine forest, fern-covered canyons, camellias, magnolias, heathers, and flowered coastal bluffs on the Pacific Ocean, there are wild mushrooms galore.  Every wintry Monday afternoon through January 31, 2011, the Gardens' staff mycologists lead off-trail Mushroom Walks through the funghi's favorite growing areas, and instruct participants about mushroom myths, biology, and identification.  Tours run every Monday from 1:30pm to 3pm through January 31, 2011, and are free with admission to the gardens ($10 per adult, discounted rates available for seniors, Mendocino County residents, and kids). Come prepared for wet weather and messy tromping through the wilds.  18220 North Highway One, Fort Bragg, 707.964.4352x16.
As an eco-resort, The Stanford Inn by the Sea aims for sustainability in every aspect of its operations.  Its restaurant is vegetarian, organic, and locally sourced to the greatest extent possible, and as part of the Crab & Wine Festival in late January (the lobster mushroom is a remarkable alternative to seafood), the Inn is collaborating with local mushroom expert Ryane Snow to provide informational walks.  These tours begin typically at 10am, usually last about 2-3 hours, and culminate in a tasting back at the Inn.  Call the Inn for dates and pricing.  Stanford Inn by the Sea, Coast Highway & Comptche-Ukiah Road, Mendocino, 800.331.8884.

Multiple hour mushroom treks are also available through Forage SF, the semi-underground San Francisco group dedicated to sustainable gathering of the edible natural delights in our midst. Two Wild Mushroom Adventures led by mushroom expert Kevin Feinstein (@FeralKevin) are scheduled for December 11th, and January 15th.  From 11am to 4pm, you will tramp through the mushroom-rich northern California forests, learning to identify the poisonous from the nutritious, as well as how to practice sustainable foraging.  Tickets are $75 each plus online booking fee, and a shuttle service from San Francisco may be available. 

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