When you’re learning about edible mushroom identification and cookery, a good place to look is at the web sites of specialty produce sellers. These companies mostly cater to restaurants and chefs, but will sometimes have an on-line or storefront retail operation too.
When you are in search of a particular mushroom that doesn’t grow in your area or is out of season, they are indispensable. The Candy-Cap Cheesecake I brought to the winter meeting of the Arizona Mushroom Club couldn’t have been made without dried candy caps from Far West Fungi.
Their web sites will typically have pictures and other information about the various species they source from growers and foragers, and often a recipe list or blog with information about cooking them. They will usually list what species are currently in season, and they’ll frequently link to other sites with more information, too.
And for travelers, one of the most useful types of information they publish may be a list of restaurants that order their produce, grocery stores that stock their products, or farmer’s markets where they will be selling. If you’re going to a gastronomic mecca like San Francisco or New York City, and want to know where you can get a really well-made meal of wild mushrooms, these sites will point you there and maybe even tell you what’s on the menu that week.
Here are a few that I have found particularly noteworthy:
Specialty Produce, San Diego, CA.
Tons of information. Probably the best of all the sites listed here. They offer many recipe links out to other engaging food blogs and websites, as well as a weekly “Farmer’s Market Bag” and their own iPhone app. For every item they sell, you can see which restaurants have ordered it recently. What a great resource for us “Zonies” who love to visit San Diego! (Wholesale only, except for the farmer’s market bag.)
Oregon Mushrooms, Keno, OR.
Not so packed with information, but has a wide retail selection of dried, powdered, frozen, and fresh mushrooms and truffles. Perhaps the best selection of fancy gift sets for mushroom lovers.
Wine Forest Wild Foods, Napa, CA
Lots of information and recipes from owner and food writer Connie Green, and highly recommended. Many kinds of mushrooms are available, and there is also a large retail selection of oils, spices, and non-mushroom wild foods. The site includes a rather hard-to-find list of restaurants they supply, which will be of interest to visiting gourmets. Her mushrooms are used by some of the biggest names in the Bay Area food scene, which is saying something.
Local Harvest, nationwide
This site is unique in this list because it is not a specific commercial enterprise, but a clearinghouse for “community supported agriculture” in a given locality. Pick a city, and it will connect you to local farmer’s markets and specialty grocers, a list of what nearby farmers and foragers have in stock, and a calendar of various local events of interest to foodies, foragers, and gardeners. There is a very large amount of informative articles and useful links to other sites. The mushrooms we’re most interested in do get a little lost amidst all the other categories, but this nonetheless looks like a site that most of our readers would find worthwhile.
Follow the link below to see what kind of local food is available in Arizona:
Far West Fungi, San Francisco, CA
A moderate amount of information, and large selection of mushrooms at retail. Their store in the Ferry Terminal farmer’s market is worth a stop when you’re in San Francisco. Try the candy-cap marshmallows and ice cream.
Marx Foods, Seattle, WA
A fair amount of information and recipes, and an immense selection of wild, exotic, and fancy foods, not just mushrooms. If you are serving a state dinner for the Queen of England and her 300 best friends, look here.
MycoLogical Natural Products, Eugene, OR
Recipes, seasonal charts, and a variety of available dried and fresh mushrooms from a well-known supplier in Oregon. I see their dried mushrooms stocked in Arizona supermarkets all the time.
Gourmet Mushrooms, Sebastopol, CA
No wild fungi here, but numerous kinds of exotic cultivated mushrooms, especially Japanese varieties. Quite a few recipes and cooking tips.
Pacific Rim Mushrooms, Vancouver, BC
A large selection of foraged and cultivated mushrooms, fresh and dried, including a lot of Asian varieties. Some good looking recipes, and a smattering of other useful information.
If you have other sites of this sort that you like to use, drop us a line and we’ll add them to the list.