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Photograph by Amber Turpin
Mushaboom: The chanterelle makes its entrance.


It's almost mushroom-hunting season.


Fun with Fungus The Santa Cruz Fungus Federation is a diverse and lively group of people who simply "appreciate good food, good wine, and are really intrigued by mushrooms," according to Richard Lyness, the group's minister of programs. Some members have been involved for over 30 years, meeting every month to revel in mycology and discuss their latest finds. An unspoken sense of respect for everything fungal is palpable in this group and evident when Bob Sellars, the local foray minister, addressed the full room about upcoming expeditions at the latest meeting on Sept. 19 at Louden Nelson Center. The trips are to "fill your mind, not your basket" and planned not by convenience but by when the mushrooms are up and ready. This reverence was equally relayed by the guest speaker and chef, Joseph Shultz, who is "a legend, an institution, a mushroom character," as introduced by Lyness. And, indeed, a character India Joze is, whose firm belief in "food taking place in real time instead of backstage" resulted in a massive, on-site kitchen setup for the evening's cooking demo. In just two hours, five amazing mushroom-centric dishes were created from scratch on the spot: Indian puris with spiced lobster mushrooms, ground peanuts, cilantro and homemade kefir; salmon chanterelle chowder; Thai lobster mushroom sauté with lemon grass and chiles; beer-battered and fried oyster mushrooms with walnut-garlic dipping sauce; mushroom pâté with Vietnamese mint, Thai basil, galangal (Thai ginger) and capers. As the platters were passed, so was the Joze's wealth of wisdom on food, the world and life in general, expounding way too many perfect quotes to fit onto this page.

Voracious Visitor Bad-boy chef, author and explorer Anthony Bourdain is writing yet another book about his wild life of excess. Kitchen Confidential, his personal account of the drug-fueled, sleep-deprived and reckless lifestyle so common in the restaurant industry, blew open this world for all to see. His account was followed by a wave of similar food-based stories, shows and movies to be eaten up by the drama-craving public. Continuing in the behind-the-scenes vein, the new book is based on Bourdain's current role as host on the Travel Channel's No Reservations, in which he travels the globe seeking out food and adventure. Bourdain's next stop is ... Santa Cruz? It's an unlikely place to find his typical preference for outrageous ingredients, unless he's searching for the perfect dry-farmed tomato. Bourdain arrives at the Rio Theatre (1205 Soquel Ave.) on Friday, Nov. 12, at 7:30pm. Call Capitola Book Cafe for more information: 831.462.4415.

Long Live Lederhosen Oktoberfest at the Tyrolean Inn, which happened Sept. 21-23, was a sight to behold. Along the sleepy stretch of Highway 9 that is Ben Lomond, parking got tight, costumed people meandered and jolly rifts of accordion music floated up into the mountains. Inside the Inn's perimeter, fenced off and expanded just for this special weekend-long occasion, a live German band played on and on while the crowd sucked down Hofbrau Oktoberfest or Kostritzer beer, eating Jagerschnitzel, Schweinsbraten or Gulasch, and polka-ing along. Staffing at the restaurant wass at least tripled, all lederhosen-clad, cleavage-spilling and quadruple-fisted with huge liter-size glass mugs of lager. Mark it on your calendars for next year and arrive early for a spot by the band.

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