Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mushroom Time Again -- SOMA Mushroom Camp Approaches

Winter in Northern California is often like a big playground for those of us who are mushroom hunters. I consider myself part of the lot, although the days that I go out hunting have been limited in the last few years by working too much on "perfect hunting days". I hear the mushroom sirens singing but must ignore them all too often. One of my goals for this year is to get outside at least once a week with my eyes focused on the ground -- at least during mushroom season which lasts until around April, depending upon the weather. While this has not been the best year for mushrooms, it's a heck of a lot better than last year which, to me, was one of the worst that I can recall. (But I am fairly new to this endeavor -- with less than 10 years in.)

No matter what happens in the woods, SOMA mushroom camp takes place Martin Luther King weekend in Occidental, California. And I am one of the lucky people who toils in the kitchen, putting out a couple of wonderful mushroomy meals. I work with Mycochef Patrick Hamilton who does the menu, and I am the kitchen coordinator, or sous chef. This year, I fear that I may be in trouble with our Asian street food menu of 20 dishes that require many hands. But many hands we will have and if I can remember all the names and faces that go with the hands, we will have spectacular results. (Think about joining us next year, in the kitchen or not. It's an amazing weekend.)

My favorite part of camp is when I sneak out the back door to mushroom cultivation -- making oyster mushroom bags to bring home. You can see the results from one of last year's oyster mushroom bags here.

This year I will have my camera with me and hope to get some people and mushroom shots, with the mushrooms easier to hunt down than the people. So stay tuned...

You never know what you'll find in the woods or in the kitchen.