I present to you the latest addition to my edible mushroom repertoire: lepista nuda, also known by the homey name blewit, which sounds like you just missed a great opportunity. And you would, if you passed up a chance to eat these mushrooms.
The blewits is a worldwide species (also known as clitocybe nuda, with a cousin lepista saeva in Europe) that likes trees and fallen leaves or other decomposing duff. It is pretty easy to identify and worth taking home, if only for the vivid lilac-to-lavender color.
I mentioned recently that I walked right by some blewits on a recent mushroom foray. Yes, I "blewit." But I made amends by returning to that spot a week later, where I picked two pounds in 15 minutes. I also found some blewits near Folsom Lake two days ago, so they are popping now.
Here's what you need to know about gathering blewits:
• They are, in general, a cool-weather mushroom, arriving in the Northeast and Pacific Coast around October and persisting all winter long—so long as there are no extended frosts.
• Blewits have a standard "mushroom" shape: simple cap; a thick, stocky stalk; tight gills. There will be no ring or veil around the stalk.
• The cap should be smooth, almost suede-like. It will have leaf litter stuck to it from time to time, but it will never be slimy or viscid. Blewit caps are often beige to mauve. As the mushroom ages, the edges of the cap will get wavy.