A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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Mushroom Hunt

March 4th, 2010

This past Sunday I went on a mushroom hunt in Nojoqui Falls Park. Slow Food Santa Barbara organized the event, and it was a great success. Over 50 people and 8 dogs participated. We hunted for mushrooms for a couple hours then went to Via Maestro 42 for a killer meal.

Nojoqui Falls Park is a beautiful place just a few miles north of Gaviota. Most people visit the park to view the spectacular 80 foot waterfall; but our group was all about the mushrooms. We were armed with baskets, gloves, and knives ready to hunt for that illusive fungi. Mushrooms are not that easy to find. Although they are typically found in moist areas under trees, they blend into the landscape and are well hidden under leaves. To make our job even more difficult, poison oak was everywhere. But we had a tenacious group that prowled the woods and ended up collecting hundreds of mushrooms. After the hunt we reconvened to display our treasures on a picnic table. Mycologist Bob Cummings discussed each species and told us which mushrooms were edible…most weren’t. 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

Our two best finds were a big batch of chanterelles and two rare, but very flavorful, black trumpet mushrooms.

Chanterelles

Chanterelles

After the hunt, it was time for lunch at Via Maestra 42, an Italian restaurant in town. Renato Moiso, the owner, prepared a special meal for the Slow Food group with a focus on mushrooms. The first course was a stuffed portabello mushroom served with asparagus.

Stuffed Portabello

Stuffed Portabello

Next was a mushroom risotto made with farro (rather than the typical arborio or carnaroli rice). The dish was rich and laden with chunks of mushrooms; it was earthy and delicious . The main course was a braised pheasant with porchini mushrooms served with roasted potatoes. Why can’t I eat like this everyday?

Pheasant with Porchini Mushrooms

Pheasant with Porchini Mushrooms

Antonio Gardella, an early member of Slow Food SB, produced Companeros Wines with a group of friends. These wines were not sold, but were saved for special occasions. Antonio donated his wines for the event on Sunday. What made them so special is that the Campaneros Winery was destroyed last May in the Jesusita fire, and unfortunately will not be rebuilt. I hope we can find a way to capitalize on Antonio’s talents, and make more great wine.

Our final course was a hazelnut torte. The flavor reminded me of the hazelnut gelato I ate in Florence, scrumptious. Renato outdid himself once again. A fantastic meal was enjoyed by all.

Slow Food will have events monthly, gathering like minded people to celebrate food. If you would like to join us, click here.

2 Responses to “Mushroom Hunt”

  1. Maureen Ferrari says:

    Ed…. You lead a very ‘adventurous’ life! Sounds delicious…. looking forward to you making this on my next visit…or going to that italian restaurant! Maureen

  2. sheila says:

    Is there a “black truffle hunt” anytime soon? :-)

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