We finally scored our first bag of shrooms on the road!
The gourmet mushrooms of Far West Fungi were the focus of our tour in the Monterey Bay area this week. (And we’ve got a great giveaway too!)
Edible mushrooms are a low-calorie, immunity-boosting food loaded with B and D vitamins, protein, fiber, iron, selenium, potassium, riboflavin, unsaturated fatty acids, and anti-oxidants. Research has shown a multitude of potential metabolism-speeding, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer benefits. Plus, they are delicious. With so many varieties, textures, flavors, and uses, there is bound to be a mushroom out there for everyone!
Owned by fun guys (ba dum bum!), John and Toby Garrone, just off the Highway 101 in Moss Landing, California, this mushroom farm is a family run-operation with a handful of employees.
We were introduced to John, who kindly and eagerly brought us around the operation for a thorough and informative tour.
Far West produces the organic specialty and medicinal mushrooms for the restaurants of the Bay Area, Whole Foods, surrounding grocery stores and herbal medicine suppliers. They also do farmers markets around San Francisco, the home of their retail store.
This day, they were working on some new metal fabricated racks for the mushroom blocks. These blocks are the basis for reproducing the strains of mushroom available from their farm.
The blocks start in sterile plastic filter bags that are filled with untreated hardwood sawdust, calcium, other nutrients, and the particular mycelium strain needed for each type of ‘shroom. They then go through another process of sterilization before being inoculated with the mushroom mycelium and matured in farm buildings each specially designed with their own size, temperatures and humidity, depending on the strain.
Far West Fungi clones their own mushrooms in a special on-site lab to procure the best and most flavorful varieties.
In the dim, misty farm rooms packed floor-to-ceiling with the delicacies, we got a close up look at massive and flavorful Shiitakes, Matsutake, King Trumpets, beautiful Canary and Pink Oysters; as well as other wild forest blends from spawn to harvest.
We’re now headed to restock our wine and butter supply, as most of the ‘shrooms we took home with us will be perfect in a simple sauté or soup.
Summer Mushroom Soup
The fog never really rolls out in this part of the bay, and since we were a little chilly, we decided to fire up a clear, comforting, mushroom soup (which could be served hot or cold).
We melted butter with fermented garlic water, white wine, and black pepper and added chopped mushrooms to the simmering liquid with some fresh baby dill and a dollop of dijon mustard until the mushrooms were tender and fragrant.
If you’re feeling bold, you can also add some chopped onion and tomato to the simmering stock, but the recipe as-is showcases the texture and nuance-of-flavor in each mushroom.
Simple. Hearty. Delectable. Perfect for the road.
The low-lying area of Moss Landing is just a quarter-mile off of the beach, and Garrone says with the pretty much ever-present fog, it’s the perfect place to grow mushrooms… They have a very specialized operation that has taken years by the sea to cultivate — but their passion and expertise led them to create a kit for budding Mushroom Masters, wherever they may be!
Far West Fungi now offers a grow-your-own mushroom kit at their stores; they’ve set up the perfect microclimate for you to start your own mini Shiitake farm and grow pounds of prized, rich, Shiitake mushrooms, perfect for soups, sautés, and savory gravy — and we have one to give away!!! Just post a comment below and we will do a random drawing in a couple of days (U.S. entries only for now, our apologies to our readers from afar) — Extra entries available for those who ‘like’ us and share this story from our Facebook page!
UPDATE: Congrats to Carolyn from California who claimed her prize of an awesome mushroom mini farm! Best of luck to the new fungi farmer!