The Halfmoon Bay Apple Festival always comes as a surprise – like most Halfmoon Bay events, there’s an element of whimsy that translates into never quite knowing when events are going to be happening until about a week before.
We stopped in at the Apple Fest in between our mushroom foray and the identification session on Sunday (October 16), on a reconaissance mission for candy apples, but by 1pm they were sold out. I contented myself with an apple tart from Ty’s Fine Foods & Bistro, and then had to buy a second one because a) they were THAT good, and b) I was enjoying a rare moment of confluence of a blood sugar low and an available snack, the perfect ‘storm’ for a diabetic. Tsk Tsk. They were small! I also bought 5 pounds of heritage apples of different varieties and was reminded again of how narrow our grocery store exposure is to the hundreds of apple varieties to be had. I will eat my way through the bag this week and pronounce my favorites!
This video is a montage of photos from our 2 hour foray in the woods with mycologist Larry Evans, and just one of his extremely interesting mini-sessions on identification, including ‘false’ varieties, and the winter variety of the chanterelle.
A good tip from Larry starting out was that novice mushroom hunters should concentrate on learning 1-3 new mushrooms per season and once a mushroom is successfully identified and harvested at least 3-6 times, you can move on to the next one. Several of the edible varieties our 40-person group found on our fanned out exploration of a local forest are listed in many books as bitter or non-edible, but actually are delicious if properly identified and cooked. An example of this would be the Shrimp Russula, which after Painted Boat chef Spencer Watts sliced these russet/purple & white shrooms up and cooked them with a bit of white wine and garlic with thyme thrown in at the end, were simply stupendous.
These Shaggy Manes were found right in the dirt at Painted Boat Resort, and they must be cooked within an hour or so of picking.
I was lucky enough to stumble across a new specimen of fungi that Larry hadn’t seen before, and it will be added to the provincial or Pacific Northwest database of fungi for further study. There literally were hundreds of mushroom species in the small area our group worked in, and we even found a beautiful stand of Shaggy Mane mushrooms in the bark mulched gardens at Painted Boat Resort – they were delicious.
This event is highly recommended for next year – do yourself a favor and join the Sunshine Coast Shroom Society and get first crack at the events and talks not only at the festival but year round. It’s only $20/individual or $25/family, and you’ll get in free to the festival displays.
A number of people at the Mushroom hunt were raving about the Saturday night Keynote Dinner at The Restaurant at Painted Boat; Larry gave a talk on mushrooms of South America, and Spencer created a gastronimical feast of all things mushroom – I hear the mushroom ice cream was to die for.
I wish I had bought one of these Sunday when I had the chance – you can always make do with a small knife and pastry or mushroom brush:
Recommended Mushroom Books
North American Mushrooms: A Field Guide to Edible and Inedible Fungi (Falconguide)
A Field Guide to Mushrooms: North America (Peterson Field Guides)
The New Savory Wild Mushroom