Wild mushrooms: When it rains, it spores

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Market correspondent Gillian Ferguson chats about chanterelles with chef Travis Hayden of Voodoo Vin at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Photo by Laryl Garcia/KCRW

Wild mushrooms are a rare sight at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market but when it rains, it spores. Market correspondent Gillian Ferguson speaks with Barabara Whyman of Tutti Frutti Farms in Lompoc about their chanterelles. Oaks surround the farm, and Whyman explains that the mushrooms sprout out of the mulch under the trees after the rain. She explains that size doesn’t matter when it comes to mushrooms but what is growing on the farm are California chanterelles that tend to be bigger. Mushrooms need to breathe so Whyman recommends storing them in a paper bag in the refrigerator and not washing them before use, as they’ll soak up the water like a sponge, destroying the flavor.

Chef Travis Hayden of Voodoo Vin in East Hollywood is shopping for mushrooms. At the natural wine bar, Hayden works to tailor his small plates with the same ethos as the minimal-interference bottles. He is butter-basting the Tutti Frutti chanterelles in green garlic which he serves with polenta and a romesco sauce. Packed with umami with woodsy and sometimes fruity notes, Hayden admits that “when you pack it with butter, there’s really nothing better.”

Wild mushrooms sprout from the mulch at the bottom of the oak trees about a week or two after the rain on Tutti Frutti Farm. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW