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 would 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. We were learning the art of foraging from Jim Fuller and Richard Ford. Jim is a lovely gent with many tales and much knowledge, having worked on many 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. Both 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 also 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 testament to the power of fungus, encapsulating a caterpillar, taking over its body, instructing it before engulfing it. Creepy, amazing stuff.
After our adventure in the forest, we ended up back at Olive Jones restaurant, where Chef Mike took us through ways to prepare the beauties we had foraged. This restaurant is a gem, with a wood fired oven churning out loaves and pizza for the local community. In my dreams I’d visit here on a Wednesday (wood fired pizza night) after a steady day of writing and walking and leaf crunching.
Our mushroom meal was absolutely divine, starting with sparkling wine and then moving onto a potato rosti with smoked salmon and our silky, sautéed, superb mushrooms. Followed up with duck confit on a bed of smooth mashed potatoes with our mushrooms swooning underneath, plus a little Brussels sprout action. It was just beautiful. The whole day was.
OLIVE JONES OF MACEDON CUISINE: Bar, Gastropub ADDRESS: 40 Victoria Street, Macedon HOURS: Wed 5pm – 10pm / Thurs – Sat 12 – 11pm / Sun 12 – 8pm WEBSITE:www.olivejones.vpweb.com.au FACEBOOK:Olive-Jones