Mushroom picking is alive and well in the Pacific Northwest where I live, and every year for the past few years I’ve wanted to go mushroom picking for the matsutake pine mushroom – a beautiful mushroom grown where you would find pine trees, prized for its distinct, strong aroma. My friend Cindy has been going mushroom picking with her family since she was a child, and her dad is the secret mushroom man with decades of mushroom picking under his belt. So with a little secret knowledge punched into an iPhone, our little mushroom picking crew set off towards the mountains on a crisp Fall morning in October. While we sadly didn’t find our special mushroom this time, we had a blast exploring the forest and its many mushroom varieties… and enjoyed a mushroom-themed hotpot for dinner!
Cindy’s dad explaining where he used to go to pick mushrooms.
Our trip mascot, the adorable and hilarious baby Saya!
Into the woods we went. How beautiful our province is…
Mushrooms galore! These were golden in colour with a slick slime accumulated on its pretty ruffly top. All I could think of was the story of Babar the elephant, and how his parents died of eating poisonous mushrooms…
Upside down mushroom reminded me of a round pancake slug clinging to a branch.
False matsutake! We thought we found one.
Sadly, our area seemed to be picked over for the pine mushroom!
Lovely looking brown-capped mushrooms, but again we couldn’t identify it so didn’t want to end up a like a green-skinned poisoned elephant.
This was a disturbing/hilarious little find – a greyish… okay, “dink” mushroom!
THESE WERE CRAZY! They looked like they were a movie prop, light pink mushrooms with oozing red blood-like jelly. I looked this up when we got home and it’s called the Bleeding Tooth Fungus. Interestingly enough, this mushroom isn’t even toxic – scientists have even discovered this horrifying little shroom holds some antiobiotic properties.
A little bridge in the forest.
Sadly, no pine mushrooms for us on this trip! I must’ve seen over 20 varieties of other mushrooms. I think I’m mushroom crazy now. However, back at the cabin…
The reading of the dog book – Cindy looks up dogs, her partner Marc chops wood!
A nice roaring fire, with wood on deck…
…and dinner prep begins! Cindy is the master hot pot chef, which is a giant boiling pot of tangy broth housing a myriad of delicious ingredients. Items continue to be added to the broth, cooked in the broth and served right out of the soup.
We may not have picked our pine mushroom, but we brought plenty of our own – enoki mushroom strands and shiitake mushrooms…
Shredded shards of seasoned seaweed.
I like to eat this by itself, so thin, delicately crunchy and yummy!
Must have greens.
And finely grated-to-a-pulp daikon (Japanese radish), to be mixed with homemade ponzu sauce for the bottom of each soup bowl.
The broth bubbling along…
The broth cooking up the mushrooms, greens, udon noodles and tofu!
Baked sweet kambocha squash, to be used for gyoza filling.
Pan fried, handmade kabocha squash gyoza!
Super soup – hot pot party!
I’ll have a side of gyoza, please! A beautiful end to a beautiful day with good friends.
Til next time, mushroom lovers! xo