Foraging for Mushrooms
Macedon in Autumn is just dreamy. The trees are adorned with auburn and yellow-brown crinkle cut leaves, and the grass is lush from the lazy May rain. A touch of fog further romances you and you're suddenly wishing you were the proprietor of that darling corner white weatherboard house with a stone fence. You'd eat cake for breakfast and write novels about pioneer women taking on the world. And then on the weekends, you could forage for mushrooms. Yes, that'd do just nicely.
Last weekend, my dear friend Emma Stirling from Scoop Nutrition and I headed to Macedon with our families for a day foraging for mushrooms (for more information on our day and our upcoming field trip see Emma's post here). We were learning from Jim Fuller and Richard Ford. Emma introduced us to Jim in her post on spawn technology and how mushrooms get from the field to the shops. He is a lovely gent of many tales and much knowledge, working on exciting exotic mushroom ventures. Richard has been supplying Melbourne's top restaurants with mushrooms for 25 years. His knowledge is out of this world articulate and fascinating, I could listen to him talking about mushrooms for hours. Both of these gents know their mushrooms, they live and breathe them, and this is what you want when setting out foraging.
Wandering under the pines, we searched for Pine Mushrooms, which are a fantastic orange colour, and Slippery Jacks. These two mushrooms are very distinct and not easily confused with dangerous mushrooms. It goes without saying, folks, don't forage without a guide unless you are extremely well educated. There are deadly mushrooms all over the place. Richard detailed what can happen if you ingest one, which was terribly unromantic though terribly necessary.
Further up the mountain we pulled long cords of cordyseps out of the ground, a completely surreal, pinch me, 'what on earth is going on, I swear I haven't had any mushrooms??' moment. These suckers are a testimate to the power of fungus, encapsulating a catepiller, taking over it's body, intstructing it before engulfing it. Creepy amazing stuff. For more information on cordyseps, see Emma's post here.
Back at Olive Jones restaurant, Chef Mike took us through ways to prepare the beauties we had foraged. This restaurant is a gem, with a woodfired oven churning out loaves and pizza for the local community. In my dreams I'd visit here on a Wednesday (woodfired pizza night) after a steady day of writing and walking and leaf crunching.
Oh, and our mushroom meal was absolutely divine, starting with sparkling wine and then moving onto a potato rosti with smoked salmon and our silky, sauteed, superb mushrooms. And then, duck confit on a bed of smooth mashed potatoes with our mushrooms swooning undernearth, plus a little brussels sprout action. It was justbeautiful. The whole day was. And next time, you can join us...
Scoop Nutrition and Apples Under My Bed Field Trip
Would you like to come mushroom foraging too? We would love to share the experience. On Sunday June 29th we will be heading out again to Macedon Victoria with Jim and Richard. It's a full day outing, meeting at 10:00am in Macedon and finishing lunch late in the afternoon. We have spots for lucky friends to join us. You will need to arrange your own transport (it's less than hour from Melbourne) and the set price lunch is $60.00. Send your expressions of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.