We seem to be starting to frequent Sonoma County. That was the third trip this year. Rita found this group – Mycological Society of Sonoma County. They were conducting their monthly mushroom hunt at the just the right time after some rains. The event was at the Salt Point State Park. I think the idea of this hunt was to teach people about the mushrooms. Not sure why in US mushrooms are hunted. In my motherland they were picked up. But that is just minor detail.
Saturday, November 17th, 2012
We left for Sonoma in the predawn yours of November 17th. It was a long but lovely drive. I personally like foggy weather. The nature looks interesting even though this weather asks for some very attentive driving. This was especially the case for the windy mountainous part of CA-1 further north. We brought some food for the after picking potluck. The weather was just right for the mushrooms – it was raining quite a bit before and this day promised a couple of hours break. We gotten to the Salt Point State Park a bit before 9:30AM. It turned out that we were not the only interested party. In fact, within an hour it was all full of people looking for mushrooms. The hosts (Mycological Society of Sonoma County) divided the group into two – complete novices would stay in the park proper and a bit more experienced folks would drive 10 min further north for a different hunting ground. I didn’t really want to stick with the crowds so we went to the North. The hunt started right away. Just cross CA-1 and go the grassy hills. It had just the environment to grow boletes (or боровики) – glass with some small pine trees. It appeared that someone had already visited this place. But they didn’t pick up everything. We still were able to find lots of mushrooms. It was like you can find remains of someone cleaning their catch and right there in the grass there would be more mushrooms. There were also slippery jack mushrooms, but people were thumbing their noses at them. In the end everyone got together at the picnic area next to the parking showing off their trophies. It was a good day – the rain paused and there was even some sun. People have collected a lot, all sorts of stuff. The hosts asked people to collect everything in order to teach people how to identify the mushrooms. There were some really weird ones, but mostly known. Interestingly, I remember that chanterelles were very small in Belarus and for some reason they were large in East Bay. Well, belorussians just didn’t let them grow large, that’s all. As usual people brought enough food to feed an army. Our TJ’s tofu chicken thingies weren’t that popular. But there was enough overall to us to nibble. I was introduced to some interesting Italian soup cooked by the lady who drove us to the picking place. It had all sorts of edible thing sings it. Well, with all the activities, bread and wine, some amount of mushroom explanation, the rain started to come back and people started to clean up and go continue with their day. On our schedule was the stay at the Full House farm. But that was at the end of the day. I was kind of full from all that food so I went for a hike in the Salt Point State Park. Rita slaked out. The park had a very nice displays of different trees and ecological systems. I even found more mushrooms. By the end of my little hike the rain was coming down pretty hard so we started going to our next stop. The rain had came back. This made for an interesting drive back. We had to search for our farm in the dark. Eventually we made it. The farm turned out to be quite small. I’m not really sure how the lady who is the proprietor was actually making a living out of it. It seems their family had other properties in several states. It was all dark and wet when we got there. We were apparently the only guests in the main house. We got a little tour, then fed the chickens and put them (with one lonely duck) into their enclosure. Then Rita was milking a doe (female goat). It was a bit sad that I was too shy to ask our host for that fresh milk. After that we settled on our well equipped bedroom and kitchen trying to warm up and dry out. The place was well organized. Aside from spotty WiFi it was all the necessities – music, information, hot water with some drinks, wine, DVDs, gorgeous Jacuzzi outside, and bathroom larger than our living room.
Sunday, November 18th, 2012
Sunday started a bit foggy, but no rain. From our window we were watching the wild turkeys going down from the night nesting site in the trees. Our host was very unhappy about them because they were eating all her fresh seeds. But they did provide a good Thanksgiving meal, right at the ranch. I suggested to her to start selling a line of free-range organic turkeys. For some reason she wasn’t too excited about this idea.
Since this farm was a Bed & Breakfast the breakfast park was exceptional. The host really asked us the day before for the breakfast selection. It was all organic mostly local food. She kind of limited the choices of meals saying that people would order everything and then don’t finish. Well, those goat cheese pancakes with home-made blueberry shake were exceptional. I could eat more.
After breakfast we just walked around the place. It was mostly one large field of grass. Horses were there walking. There was also some amount forest. Aside from the main house the farm had a separate small and large cottages. May be a good place for a family reunion or something like that. There small cottages had a vegetable garden next to it. There was not a lot there due to the end of the season, but still enough berries and peas to nibble. On the way back we found more mushrooms. This time there were Angel Wings (they looked like oysters to me). Our host was a bit worried about us eating those. She actually called Rita a couple of times to see if we didn’t die. In the end we bought a pint of goat milk and went home.
The mushrooms we picked proven to be more trouble than they worth. I had to throw away almost half of the boulettes because forms were eating them. The rest were dried for some future soup. Other mushrooms were friend with potatoes and onions.