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As Californians, and especially Sacramentans, we relish in the fact that some of the best produce in the world comes from our home state and our local region. We proudly trail blaze the farm-to-fork movement and appreciate the incredibly fresh ingredients at our fingertips. However, there are many people in California, across the nation and world that won’t encounter one of the best things to come from our Golden State, the candy cap mushroom. At The Kitchen we present this “unicorn” of the culinary world on the third course of our January menu.

If you thought truffles were special, then you haven’t yet tried the candy cap. Unlike most mushrooms, which are known for their incredible umami quality, candy cap mushrooms are prized for their intensely sweet and aromatic maple syrup scent. Their one- to three-inch tops and stems share a beautiful orange-brown color of cinnamon and rust. They only grow from the central coast of California up to the central Oregon coast favoring the shade of pines, Douglas firs and live oak. Best used when dried, when their aroma (and most prized characteristic) is intensified. Just a tablespoon of the dried fungi can fill a room with an overwhelming and lingering maple scent.

Our forager friend, Connie Green, has procured beautiful and fragrant candy caps that are prepared on the third course of our January Menu, on which we celebrate wild mushrooms. Dried candy caps are used to impart their unique sweetness into a spaetzle (soft egg noodle) giving a gentle touch of maple into a earthy winter dish of young chicken, mushroom ragout, and braised Winter greens. Relish in celebrating mushrooms from our great state and one of the most prized of them all!