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Foraging mushrooms in W. Virginia

A wonderful bounty to bookend a cross country journey.

When you're 7 days into a cross country road from Tacoma, WA to N. Carolina and you plan one last hike the day before because you didn't get the hiking mileage you wanted...We pulled into somewhere in NW Indiana the night before figuring out the next 2 days. Up to this point we had only put in 25 miles or so of hiking on our trip. Granted, that included a hike to Grinnell Glacier in Montana, strolling passed Bison in N. Dakota and scrambling rocks in Wisconsin but we wanted a big hike. Spruce Knob in W. Virginia offered exactly that. 10 miles of out and back goodness over a slow arcing knob that melded that sweet blend of mileage without too much exertion.

A quarter mile into the trail and the forest to my left is dotted with little splotches of colorful foliage. A few more steps and they're getting larger. I pause, the entire hillside is dotted with yellowish orange mushrooms. These my friend were one of the kings of the mycological world, the Chanterelle. They wouldn't survive the next 9+ miles in a plastic bag so we continued our hike to the top of Spruce Knob.

Over the hike we encountered thousands of mushrooms of all types and sizes. Puffballs, Honey's, Destroying Angel's, Fly Agaric's and those were the only one's I knew with the vast majority species I couldn't identify. I've been wanting to hike in Dolly Sods State Park for a while, so this bounty of mushrooms is one of many reasons I'll be back to the area. Especially with it only being 5 hours or so from N. Carolina.

The other pics shown are what we did with the small sampling we harvested from the site. In hindsight we should have doubled are take. We only picked the choice Chanterelles, of those we split between those we'd cook fresh and those we'd dehydrate for a later date with a pot of Carnaroli Risotto.

The photo below was a simple saute of Chanterelles with fettuccine tossed with a bit of olive oil and garlic with fresh thyme and a slight dusting of parmigiano. The simplest of pasta dishes are always the best.

The last dish was a Escoffier’s Cream of Chanterelle Soup. I took the recipe straight from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and it was phenomenal. Possibly the best soup I've ever had. Warning, the recipe is not for the faint at heart. Saffron, roux, a splash of Armagnac create the creamiest, luxurious soup you'll ever have. Topped with a bit of parsley, creme friache and toasted baguette. Recipe Link

There is something magical about foraging for mushrooms. The connection to the land, harvesting a meal from knowledge passed down through the generations, the thrill of the hunt. The act of foraging goes naturally with hiking and what better outcome to a walk in the woods to cleanse your mind than a bounty of chanterelles!

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