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Wild Mushroom Festival, Mystic, CT 2016

An early flight out of Tucson had us in Connecticut by 5:30pm.

Great Tucson Quality Inn. Such tasteful interior decorating.

Very cool lobby of Tucson Quality Inn. Such tasteful interior decorating.

Mountains visible from Tucson airport

Mountains visible from Tucson airport.

Boiling clouds

Boiling clouds.

Cloud forest

Cloud forest.

After a 20 minute drive to get to Manchester, we enjoyed a nice dinner with Brian’s family.  Brian spent the night in Manchester and I stayed with my girlfriends down in Mystic, CT.

We spent our Sunday mornings separately and met up at 12:45pm at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center for the 15th annual Wild Mushroom Festival.  The admission this year was $20 each and it came with 10 food tickets.  You could purchase more tickets for $1.

Most food items were 2 tickets with a few bigger items at 3 and a couple small dessert items at 1.  This is our 3 or 4th time attending and the festival has gotten better with each year.  Better organization, more food vendors, clearer listing of the “mushroom walk” tours and more interesting lectures.

Mushroom Festival 2012

Mushroom Festival 2012

Mushroom Festival 2014

Mushroom Festival 2014

Mushroom Festival 2014 - bird sighting

Mushroom Festival 2014 – bird sighting

Highlights

  • This was the first year we made it on a mushroom identification walk.  In previous years, the only way to find out about a departing tour was to catch wind of the time from others at the event.  You’d end up waiting by the meet-up tree for 30 minutes and nobody would show up.  It was disappointing and often resulted in missing out on delicious food items that ran out before you made it back into food item circulation.  There was a giant chalkboard this year with all the times clearly noted.
    • It was a pretty quick stroll but we had the opportunity to see “Big Laughing Jim” (a possibly hallucinogenic mushroom) growing in the wild as well as a “Lentinus” [probably ]Lentinellus ursinus].  The Lentinus was not edible but we were all encouraged to taste a small bit (apparently that is a technique used by mycologists to identify mushrooms – taste a little and then spit it out).  Funnily enough, our mushroom guide did not instruct us to spit it out.  The affect was an incredible burning or hot sensation on a very localized point on your tongue where the mushroom bit had rested a moment before you swallowed it.  The hot feeling continued for several minutes after swallowing with an ever expanding hot zone on your tongue.  I can’t image eating a whole mushroom.  Despite being told over and over again that it wasn’t edible, nearly every single person asked if it was okay to cook with. Or put in a salad.  It kind of makes you think that ‘edible’ is open to interpretation.
    • There weren’t many other stand-out attributes to the walk.  It was nice to mosey around in the cool forest and look for mushrooms.  It would have been better with small groups and more wild mushrooms in the immediate vicinity.
  • The food was incredible and some of the best we’ve had there.  Don’t think ‘raw mushrooms’ or ‘amusement park vendor food’.  These were the area’s finest restaurants serving up creative dishes with mushrooms in the spotlight.  Memorable items –
    • The sauteed mushrooms (mushroom was ‘Hen of the Woods’) on crostini was fabulous!  The thin, wavy, softly flaky nature of the mushroom meant the pieces took on the oil and ‘lemon garlic finishing sauce’ to perfection.  The texture was melt in your mouth and the flavor was spot on.  Incredible.  Thank you Gray Goose Cookery.
    • Oyster mushrooms with spinach???  The seasoning was impeccable.  This was Brian’s favorite thing there to date.
    • Mushroom ice cream (not sure on mushroom type) – high fat, maple or coffee ice cream with mushroom chunks.  Absolutely delicious!
    • Vegan mushroom quiche – memorable in that it should be avoided.  Almond flour is a destructive force in flavor appreciation.  It totally masked the flavor of the mushroom and was pretty boring.
    • Mushroom cornbread with cranberry/strawberry sauce – not very mushroom-y but very satisfying alternative sweet dish.
    • Venison stew with mushrooms – so SO good.  Big chunks of meat with mushrooms.
    • Pureed mushroom stew – nondescript but incredibly delicious.  Everybody walking around with a bowl of it was exclaiming about how great it was.
  • Both of the lectures looked really interesting but we missed them because we had to leave to catch our airplane.  They were “Mushroom ID” and “Cooking with Edibles”, presented by “The Three Foragers”.
  • There was also live fiddle music playing most of the time.  Incredible
Wild mushroom table

Local wild mushroom display table.

Lentitis found on a log in the forest

Lentinus found on a log in the forest

Our annual Mushroom Festival photo. This was the first time we went with family and friends so we didn't have to use our arm to take it.

Our annual Mushroom Festival photo. This was the first time we went with family and friends so we didn’t have to use our arm to take it.

We dashed off shortly after 3pm and were dropped off at the airport at 4:30pm.  We discovered shortly after that our flight was 1.5 hours delayed.  As a result, when we landed in Dallas, we had missed our connection by 30 minutes.  Thankfully, we were able to get a hotel voucher from the gate agent and we caught the last airport shuttle of the night.

After a 5 hour overnight nap, we woke, walked to breakfast, caught the last two seats in the first shuttle and arrived at the airport around 7am.  We were on standby for the 9am flight and had confirmed seats on the 2pm.  We got VERY lucky because the first 2 parties (of 2 people each) on standby no-showed and then we got the remaining 2 seats.  Hurrah!

A very speedy but satisfying trip.  Definitely worth it.

Costs
Flights                         $847
Travel food                $133
Mushroom festival   $  50
Hotels                         $  80    
Total                          $1,100

Past Mushroom Photos

After over-liming our yard in CT, three morels cropped up over the course of a day or two.

After over-liming our yard in CT, three magnificent morels cropped up over the course of a day or two.

We picked them, soaked them in water to encourage their mini occupants to eave and then ATE them!

We picked them, soaked them in saltwater to encourage an exodus of their mini-occupants, then ATE them!  [The mushrooms; not the occupants].

This was found on the side of the road in Bolton, CT. We believe it is 'chicken of the woods'. It may have been near an apple orchard and we think it was an oak tree.

This was found on the side of the road in Bolton, CT. We believe it is ‘chicken of the woods’. It was been near an apple orchard and we think it was an oak tree.

We believe this is 'hen of the woods' and it was found across the street from Brian's mom's house at the base of a tree. According to our mushroom tour guide, these mushrooms will come back on the same tree every year.

We believe this is ‘hen of the woods’ and it was found across the street from Brian’s mom’s house in CT at the base of a tree. According to our mushroom tour guide, these mushrooms will come back on the same tree every year.

One Comment

  1. What I woulds of loved to go to that. Can you let me know for next year I want to start growing mushrooms on my farm I love them

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