Years before Los Alamos became the apple of every gastronome’s gut, Stephan Bedford celebrated all things mycological with an annual Mushroom Festival at his eponymous winery on Bell Street. Now, for its 13th year, the Mushroom Festival has thrown many spores, you might say, and will take over Los Alamos for the January 25-27 weekend.
The central event is still Mushrooms Gone Wild! at the Bedford Tasting Room on Saturday, January 26. Bedford and his team dish up all sorts of shroomy treats, from some simply grilled to a “rye-sotto” made with whole rye berries and mushrooms. “We try not to repeat our menus from year to year,” Bedford explained. “But fortunately there are hundreds of mushroom recipes.”
A devoted bibliophile, Bedford admits he likes to geek out researching cookbooks and guidebooks, and this year was happy to discover Oaxaca al Gusto by Diana Kennedy. From it, his team will make wild mushrooms in a yellow mole, about which he says, “Okay, now we’re talking!”
The featured event on Friday, January 25, is a Mushroom Feast at Pico. Chef Drew Terp was still working with his foragers at press time, so he couldn’t quite spell out the three-course menu that will be available all evening. “The best thing about living in this area is it keeps you on your toes,” he said about wanting to serve the freshest food available, mushroom or otherwise. He’s assuming, based on what’s mostly been growing lately, that “the main course will probably feature morels or black trumpets,” adding, “Once you get a bite of a good morel, there’s nothing else like it.” Bedford couldn’t be happier that Pico is part of the weekend, calling Terp “a wizard.”
But other magic will be happening all over Los Alamos all weekend. Name a spot, and they’ll probably have at least one fungus-forward special: Bob’s Well Bread will be baking porcini bread, Plenty will have a mushroom soup, and Charlie’s will grill up a mushroom burger. Added Bedford, “We’re going to have vendors at all the tasting rooms, too,” from a truffle lady with treats from Oregon to Branden’s Gourmet Mushroom based in Orcutt, about whom Bedford says, “It’s really amazing to see the quality he’s able to produce.”
Then on Sunday, January 27, there will be a foraging walk that will kick off with mushroom coffee and mushroom scones. While Bedford half jokes, “With chanterelles and boletes, there’s not that much that looks like them that will kill you,” it’s still wise to learn how to forage with someone who knows what will kill you, or maybe just paralyze you. So heading out with experts can’t hurt.
That’s one reason Bedford will have Dr. Bob Cummings from SBCC at his Saturday event. “Dr. Cummings says you don’t eat every mushroom you see,” Bedford explained. “You look at them and appreciate them.” Because, even in a prolific season like the current one, people can over-hunt mushrooms. Or even better, let the experts dish them up for you in Los Alamos.
Have fun with fungi at the Los Alamos Mushroom Festival, January 25-27, with events around town but especially at Pico and Bedford Winery. See lovelosalamos.com.