Written by Tom Plant and re-posted from WinesDines.com. Read the original article here.
Recently I met Chef Frank Miller over an extended lunch. Frank mentioned to me that with the recent rains, this would be an ideal time to go hunting for Chanterelle mushrooms. He asked me if I’d like to head up to the Santa Ynez Valley with him and two weeks later we hit the road. Our first stop was in Los Angeles at West Central Produce. We were given a full tour of this incredible 35,000 square foot facility and marveled at the incredible array of produce, cheeses and sundries they carry. We capped off our tour with a stop in owner Chet Frangipani’s office. Chet started the business some forty years ago with one truck and a vision. He is a firm believer that if you’re not passionate about what you do, you shouldn’t even bother trying.
We headed North and arrived at Teri Love’s home in Solvang at about 2:00. Teri is the founder of Gioia Wines, and we spent about an hour and a half talking about wine, food and life while we tasted her line of wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. It may sound corny, but you actually can taste the love Teri puts into these wines. Frank was amazed that there was a hint of Chanterelle mushroom on the finish of the Chardonnay. She called her neighbor Roger Harrison of Harrison Clarke wines and asked if we could stop by.
Roger and his winemaker wife Hilarie Clarke Harrison live a few yards up the road and across the street from Teri. They have 12 acres of Grenache and Syrah and Roger graciously offered us barrel samples from two different vintages as well as their current releases of ’07 Grenache, ’06 Estate Syrah and ’06 Cuvée Charlotte Syrah. The wines are elegant, the Syrahs are big. The Cuvée Charlotte is gloriously presented in wooden boxes handcrafted by Roger. We said our goodbyes, Frank and I checked into our hotel and then met Teri for dinner at the Hitching Post.
If you saw the movie Sideways you’ll remember the Hitching Post in an instant. It’s rustic with no pretense and terrific food. We enjoyed grilled artichokes with smoked tomato aioli, mussels, seared Ahi (amazing), duck and to whet our appetite for the hunt, Chanterelles. We bid Teri adieu and after a good visit and some more wine in the room, we called it a night.
The next morning we filled our tanks with a delicious Mexican breakfast at Taco Roco. We both enjoyed Huevos Rancheros topped with Chili Verde washed down with a Corona. The hunt was on. We made a few stops, Frank carefully moving leaves with his rake trying to uncover Chanterelle gold. He finally struck paydirt. Although we found relatively few Chanterelles, the trip was an experience I’ll never forget. A new friendship was forged and I must confess, I have mushroom fever.