I have never met a fungi I didn't love. Mushrooms are the underdog of the culinary world, yet are also the unsung heroes and champions of flavor. They are truly humble and willing to take a backseat to the star of the dish, from roasts to risottos, to pizzas and pastas.

There's one well-known exception and that is the truffle – it trumps all and it knows it. But there’s a new contender to the fungi throne, because the lesser known matsutake (pronounced “maht soo tah keh”), also known as the “pine mushroom,” is beginning to command a loyal following (not to mention a pretty steep price).

partynyWHAT’S HAPPENING ON NEW YEAR’S EVE/NEW YEAR’S DAY:

Many restaurants, in addition to the ones listed below, are offering prix-fixe and special dinner menus to kick off the New Year and New Year’s Day. Please note that reservations are required at most restaurants. Please contact each venue for pricing and full details.

Drinking Champagne2

When it comes to choosing bubbly, the educated staff at Rollers can offer advice and has an extensive selection. Ridgely Knight, assistant to wine at Rollers Wine & Spirits, recommends the Champagnes and sparkling wines below for every budget from France and California to ring in the New Year!

Drinking ChampagneIn the mood for a little holiday magic? Float a kumquat in Champagne and it slowly spins around and around! Unlike both red and white wines which should not be served too chilled, Champagne must be served well-chilled, between 45°-50°F is ideal - tepid Champagne is nothing to celebrate. To quickly chill down a bottle of Champagne, fill an ice bucket with equal amounts of ice cubes and water and let it chill for 30 minutes, otherwise refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

‘Tis the season for comfort food. Here’s what a few of the area’s top bakers are serving.

“The reason this is one of my favorite holiday recipes is that on top of being absolutely fantastic, it fills the entire house with such an amazing aroma that it just sings the holidays are here,” said general manager and culinary expert Jeff Congdon.

Nothing signifies the arrival of the holidays in the Lowcountry like the return of Taste of the Season, the culinary event of the year presented annually by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

The ultimate experience for Lowcountry foodies moves to a new venue at Country Club of Hilton Head this year, which will provide an elegant setting to kick off the holiday season.

GOOD WINEWe asked Camille Copeland, sommelier of Wine & Cheese, If You Please, for a few good wine pairings for Turkey Day. She came back with a white, a rose and a red.

Fall — and of course, Halloween — bring us many pumpkins, many of which will end up on the front stoop with a jack-o-lantern grin. The best varieties of pumpkins for carving are the Ghost Rider, Magic Lantern, Merlin and Spirit — the names alone evoke pumpkin folklore, in which witches turned people into pumpkins. If you plan on entering a competition, Big Max and Big Moon grow the biggest, but if you are in the mood to make a pumpkin pie, Small Sugar or Amish Pie are best.