I had the great pleasure of spending the last couple of days in Mendocino, relaxing, eating and spending time searching through the woods looking for one of my favorite mushrooms—the venerable porcini. Oh, and did I mention eating?
Christie and I went with Thierry Lovato—a Frenchman and sommelier (now running the wine program at Zuni)—and Sandro Rossi, former owner of Oakland’s Caffe 817, and a truly knowledgeable and elegant Italian gentleman. The latter two are experienced foragers and took us to some good spots they knew. Day one, we hit a mother lode, but it was clear it was the end of the season—had we been even a few days earlier, a number of the giant porcini we found would’ve been delectable. As it was, a number of the ones we encountered in their dark nooks under bushes and pine needles were too old and would’ve been mushy if we picked them.
Of course, the main attraction was eating what we cooked, and drinking perfect wines alongside. To that end, we had six straight porcini meals. For breakfast: a porcini frittata. For lunch: tagliatelle porcini. For dinner: duck confit and fried rabbit with sauteed porcini. And we drank lovely wines—a wonderful Bandol rosé, Louis Michel Chablis and a host of Burgundies and Italian wines.
We hit the mushroom fields at the end of the season, which is why we didn’t end up finding quite the bounty we had hoped for. Next year, we’ll get it right.