Monday, February 22, 2010

Pretty in Black

So Maggie the Wonder Dog and I decided spur of the moment to take a run down to coastal California in search of one of my favorite mushrooms, Craterellus cornucopioides aka the black trumpet or Trompette de la Mort. They look like little black petunias and have a good strong earthy taste. Affectionately referred to as the "poor man's truffle", these black relatives to the chanterelle family are both stunning to look at but will flavor a dish very nicely.

We took off Friday morning around 11 am and headed straight down highway 97 all the way to the CA boarder just south of Klamath Falls. We passed an interesting area where thousands and thousands of white swans were enjoying the beautiful morning on the water but unfortunately there was nowhere to pull off the road for a photo. Continuing south we could see Mount Shasta in our sights. Wow, what a sight!

After stopping to see old friends at the Fly Shop in Redding where it was a balmy 70 degrees, I pushed on all the way to the little community off I-5 called Williams. What a cute town....from there it was another 2.5 hours over to Fort Bragg on the coast and mushroom heaven.

Black trumpets are not the easiest thing to spot in the woods but once you get your eyes dialed in and focused on what to look for, you start to notice them a lot easier. Since often they are growing out of black mud, they blend right into their surroundings and are rather invisible. When you can find them growing in green moss, they are easy to spot.

The host trees to look for with this mushroom are tanoak, chinkapin, madrone, manzanita and live oak.

Maggie and I managed to scour the forest floor and brought home a good amount of mushrooms to preserve and store for the future. All in all, a great weekend get away and beautiful weather to boot.