Friday, May 31, 2013

mushrooms in the market

While posting the photos of those tasty morels the other day, I got to thinking about the different mushrooms I've seen in my travels. This photo is from a market in the southern China town of Jinghong in Xishuangbanna. I love how serious this guy looks while choosing his mushrooms, and how happy the seller seems to be. I also (not so) secretly wish I had a cute little chair like hers. 

This was a great market to explore with everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, to shoes and housewares. I remember sampling some fruit that to this day I have no idea the name of. 

These lovely specimens are from a market in the town of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico. It's hard to tell from this picture, but some of these gorgeous mushrooms had caps that were as large as my fist.

Now I'm ready to go foraging... or traveling!

p.s. In writing this post I was remembering an interesting Italian man, Giorgio, we met while wandering the market in Jinghong that day. He had traveled the world by Vespa and was living there along the Mekong River. We struck up a fast friendship and he invited us over to his house for a traditional Italian lunch of spaghetti. Sadly, he died later that same year. Click on his name if you're curious to learn more of his adventurous life. RIP, Giorgio, and may you inspire us all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

mushroom dreams

I woke up this morning thinking about mushrooms. A couple of years ago while hiking the mountain on the south end of the island, we stumbled into a flush of morels. Unsure if that's what they were for certain, we took some photos and emailed them out to our forager friends. Quick responses assured us that yes, indeed, we had found real treasure. With my trusty Opinel knife in hand, I went back up the mountain the next day and harvested the delicate beauties. 

It's funny how once you adjust your eyes to something, you can see what was hidden before. Once I had the distinct gnome-like cap in my mind, it was easy to spot them amongst the forest duff. Even the sneaky ones couldn't hide.

Last year I went back to the same spot and there wasn't a morel to be found. They tend to grow in areas that have been disturbed, and what was a perfect habitat for them one year might not be the next. That won't stop me from looking, though. I'm a gatherer at heart, so even if I come home empty handed, I'll be glad for some time spent tromping around the forest.

That top photo ended up being published in my friend Jennifer Hahn's book, Pacific Feast: A Cook's Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine. I can highly recommend it; you can find it here. 

Happy hunting to any of you fellow foragers out there.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


The wild roses and honeysuckle are in full bloom now. When I step out my door the air smells of roses and the hummingbirds are busily buzzing from one flower to the next. 

I recently listed a beautiful book in my shop that is full of wildflowers. The color plates are tempting to frame. You can find it

Monday, May 27, 2013


Welcome! I have decided to start this blog to share a glimpse behind the scenes at refugium. I will be posting sneak peeks of my latest finds, a bit of daily life, and who knows what else. Please sign up if you'd like to receive emails to keep up with my posts.