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Mushroom Foraging

Picking a mushroom

Of the Earth

Just as wine is an expression of each vineyard the grapes are grown in; mushrooms are a beautifully basic and true expression of the forest they come from. Their flavor is a direct representation of the aromatic experience you have walking through the forest foraging. The damp leaves, freshy turned earth, and clean rain are all part of what the mushrooms bring to the table. Winemaker at Passalacqua Jessica Boone makes wine with the intention of showcasing the clean fruit and all the components that created the grape itself—structure, acid, the brambly red earth–– with all the flavors in balance and harmony. This unmanipulated approach to winemaking makes Passalacqua wine pair so perfectly other true expressions of the earth, like wild mushrooms and wild game.

Mushroom Musings

In the wet winter months, deep in the Dry Creek hills surrounding Passalacqua Winery, the Passalacqua team forages four major types of mushrooms: Golden and White Chanterelles, King and Queen Bolete, Manzanita Bolete and Coccoli (also called Coccora). Learning how to forage from Jason’s great grandfather Francis (who taught his grandfather, who taught his father, who taught Jason) the Passalacqua family has been foraging mushrooms on the same Sonoma County land for generations. Now, Jason teaches his children, Mariella and Luca, as fifth generation foragers. Affectionately known as “The Creek”, this land is acres of forested hills with a natural creek running through it. The south facing slopes, under Madrone, Manzanita and Oak are the best spots for mushrooms. The season for mushrooms varies according to rain. According to old Italian tradition, the best time to forage is three weeks after the first three inches of rain. They also recommend you blindfold anyone you take, so as to not give away your secret spots!

basket of mushrooms

Bottle of Quince

Pairing with Winemaker Jessica Boone

The “Easter egg” hunting part of mushroom foraging is the exciting part. Once you’ve filled your basket, the real work begins. Cleaning and processing mushrooms can be arduous, but worth the time invested and even more fun when paired with a glass of Passalacqua wine. When pairing wine with mushrooms, so much of the pairing depends on what’s being done with the mushrooms. As a fried appetizer, or marinated mushrooms with a charcuterie plate, Jessica favors pairing with crisp white wines like Passalacqua’s Fiano, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay. Wild mushrooms also bring out the earthy forest floor notes of Passalacqua’s Quince Pinot Noir, which goes especially well with chanterelles and chicken. Or, sauté some bolete’s in a red wine reduction with butter, pour over a juicy steak, and pair with our Radici della Famiglia (Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon) or any of our Cabernets.

Mushroom Recipes

Some of our favorite ways to enjoy mushrooms are pickled, topped on wood-fired pizza, in creamy risotto, or simply sautéed over a favorite meat – chicken, steak or wild game. If there is an abundance of mushrooms, they are great dried and preserved to use later.

Marinated Mushrooms
Our favorite marinated mushroom recipe is from Hank Shaw, of Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook: Italian Marinated Mushroom. It is super time consuming, but so delicious and impressive.

Dried Bolete Mushrooms
If there is an abundance of boletes we typically fry a few up to eat right away, and dry the remainder to use later in cooking.
1. Clean mushrooms by brushing off or peeling off any remaining dirt (no water)
2. Slice in even thickness and dry 8-10 hours in a dehydrator depending on thickness. If you don’t have a dehydrator, mushrooms can be dried in the oven at the lowest setting with the door open, or over a slow burning fire.
3. Once the mushrooms are dried out, with no remaining moisture, they should be stored in a breathable bag. I keep mine in a pillowcase on top of the refrigerator.

Oil Packed Chanterelles
Chanterelles don’t seem to do well dried, we’ve found packing in oil to be the best method of preservation.
1. Clean mushrooms by brushing off or peeling off any remaining dirt (no water)
2. Cut into large chunks and leave out in a cool dry place overnight to dry out a bit.
3. Place Chanterelle pieces in a large baking dish
4. Heat olive oil in a large pot to 350 degrees.
5. Pour hot oil into baking dish over chanterelles.
6. Let mushrooms and oil cool to room temperature, then pull out the mushrooms and pack in freezer bags or vacuseal them.
7. The used olive oil can be saved and used in your everyday cooking (will have a slight mushroom flavor).
These are great on a charcuterie board, enjoyed with a glass of Chardonnay.

Barolo and Mushroom Risotto, The Silver Spoon Cookbook
Servings: 4

1¾ cups dried mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh sage, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh basil, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
about 6¼ cups Vegetable Stock
1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 cups risotto rice
scant 1 cup Barolo (or Passalacqua Ispirato)

1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Place the mushrooms in a bowl, add hot water to cover, and let soak for 20 minutes, then drain and squeeze out.
Melt the butter with the oil in a large pan, add the garlic, onion, rosemary, sage, and basil, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper to taste, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the stock to a boil. Stir the parsley and rice into the pan of vegetables and cook, stirring continuously, until the grains are coated in fat.
Sprinkle in the wine and cook until it has evaporated. Add a ladleful of the hot stock and cook, stirring, until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, and stirring until each addition has been absorbed. This will take 18-20 minutes.
When the rice is tender, sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve with a glass of Passalacqua Ispirato.

table at creek

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