Mendocino Mushrooms. That’s a colorful statement. You might not think so until you’ve tromped through the redwood forests of Mendocino and have seen firsthand what a kaleidoscope of mushrooms there are in this world. Let me tell you, it’s a magical experience. And yes we saw “magic” mushrooms too.
I’ve just returned from 5 days on the Mendocino coast. It was a sponsored trip, and a chance to visit the Mendocino Beer, Wine and Mushroom Festival. It’s a yearly event and one that you should add to your bucket list.
Mendocino County is home to more than 3,000 kinds of mushrooms. The autumn rains each year awaken more than 500 types of edible Mendocino mushrooms. The festival is a great time for locals and visitors alike to take a hike, grab the Skunk Train or even jump onto a horse and track down coveted mushrooms varieties like chanterelle, porcini, morel, and the rare, maple-scented candy cap. We saw so many varieties on our mushroom walk through Jug Handle State Natural Reserve that I can’t begin to count them.
Of course, if you’re more culinarily inclined you can just sit back and have the best of them served to you on a plate by participating in mushroom-themed dinners, wine and beer pairings, or cooking classes at many of the nearby hotels, restaurants and wineries.
The festival is also a great time to get to know the Mendocino coast and the beautiful wine country of Anderson Valley.
I enjoyed staying at the Mallory House– located on the edge of the bluffs overlooking the ocean– and just one of the many beautiful lodging options at the 150 year old Little River Inn. Our room, the grounds and of course the famous Mendocino views were spectacular. We also had several great meals in the Inn’s restaurant and spent a bit of time on an ocean view barstool at Ole’s Whale Watch Bar. Because it was the Mushroom Festival, the hotel’s Chef Marc Dym also put together a special mushroom dinner and paired each delicious course with beer from the Russian River Brewing Company.
Of course there was wine tasting on this trip too. Particular standouts include the Navarro Vineyards and Winery white wines in the Alsatian style, a Baxter Pinot Noir that knocked my socks off, and an idyllic afternoon spent in the organic gardens while sipping another excellent Pinot Noir from the brand new tasting room at Lula Cellars.
Expect much more about these aspects of the trip soon. This post is all about the mushrooms. I’ve included quite a few pictures of some of the mushrooms we encountered. More pictures than I typically include in one post– but I just couldn’t help myself. It seems mushrooms are very photogenic. Some of these beauties are edible, some are poisonous and some are simply categorized as not recommended. I believe those “magic” mushrooms I mentioned officially fall into the “not recommended” category. Whichever category they fall into, I’m sure you’ll agree Mendocino mushrooms are beautiful. However, I’ve decided not to identify any of the mushrooms I photographed. I’m not an expert and I wouldn’t want you to use this site or these pictures to identify any of the Mendocino mushrooms you may come across. That is what experts are for. The festival’s website can hook you up with a Mendocino mushrooms expert of your own. I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will. NEVER eat a mushroom you can’t positively identify. GREG