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Gifts from the land

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Leave it to me to sing in praise of wine and wild mushrooms while the hills around Wenatchee burn.

Yes, while more loyal reporters gathered breaking news about the many lightning-caused fires this past weekend, I was out gathering wonderful chanterelle and bolete mushrooms in the non-burning foothills around Lake Wenatchee (I'll be no more specific than that).

Storms that brought spectacular (and devastating) lightning to the Wenatchee Valley and elsewhere brought enough rain farther up the eastern slopes of the Cascades to cause some of the first fall mushrooms to emerge. Along with all the other benefits of a scenic hike, I returned with about five pounds of golden and white chanterelles and one huge king bolete.

Most of my bounty will get cut up and dried or frozen for another day, but I did slice and saute a few choice chanterelles along with a couple inches of the beer-bottle-circumference bolete stem in butter and olive oil for a light pasta sauce. I added a little chopped prociutto, a garlic clove, a couple diced heirloom tomatoes, a cup of chicken stock and some fresh string beans to complete the sauce, which I tossed with a nice imported capunti (a handmade ziti) pasta, cooked al dente, and a grating of good parmesan cheese.

The perfect wine, in name if not taste, was the Erratic Cabernet Sauvignon given me last week by Butch Milbrandt, co-owner of Milbrandt Vineyards. He bottled the wine a few years ago under the Erratic label to celebrate North Central Washington's fascinating volcano, glacier and flood-created geology.

The no longer available wine was pretty darn good and a perfect addition to my wild mushroom dish, like Milbrandt's grapes, another gift of the Northwest soil.