Winter rains signal the beginning of the North Coast’s astounding mushroom season. Celebrate the harvest of one of the region’s most loved bounties, and a few other products of the liquid variety by taking part in the 10-day Feast Mendocino, held in early November.
The Mendocino region, about 120 miles north of San Francisco, is home to some 3,000 fungal varieties, which include, in addition to staples such as black trumpets, porcinis, hedgehogs and chanterelles, rarities like the candy cap mushroom with its intense maple syrup flavour and sweet fragrance. During the festival, events take place throughout the county, from the inland valleys to the coast. Tuck into one of many mushroom-themed dinners at local restaurants, try some ice cream made with those sweet-tasting candy caps, go on a guided mushroom foraging expedition, or relax and enjoy special themed rides on the popular Skunk Train (departing from Fort Bragg or Willits).
Celebrate two of the region’s other award-winning products (wine and beer) at special mushroom-pairing workshops, or take a self-guided wine-tasting tour of participating wineries. Though less than 15 miles separates the two towns, the road from Boonville to Navarro (California’s Highway 128 wine road) is home to more than two dozen vineyards with tasting rooms. Beer lovers can sample local brews and vote for their favourite at the Homebrew Festival; while fans of quirky regional history can go on the 'Bars, Bordellos and Mushrooms' tour offered by the Kelley House Museum. Cooking classes, live music and agriculture exhibitions are also on the calendar; check the website for details.