I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published April 26th 2016
Bush Picnic With a Difference
It's that time of the year again when the pine forests of the Macedon Ranges are preparing to deliver a bumper crop of natures 'super food', the mighty mushroom.
Pick the right mushroom and you'll enjoy a highly nutritious, low kilojoule meal. But pick the wrong one and you could end up extremely ill and possibly dead.
The humble mushroom is fast achieving a reputation for being a 'super food' but some, including this one, have the potential to make you terribly sick or even kill you. Photo: Ian Gill /Footloose PhotoBank
That's why Mark and Brooke Renaud, owners of the restaurant Olive Jones of Macedon, are once again conducting their very popular mushroom rambles supervised by local expert Richard Ford.
Commencing Saturday 30th April Richard will lead enthusiastic groups of foragers into pine forests throughout the Macedon Ranges in search of a variety of mushrooms including 'pines', 'wood blewits', 'saffron milk-caps' and the hugely popular 'slippery jack'.
Local expert Richard Ford will ensure that only the safe varieties of mushroom make it back to the restaurant for inclusion in your lunch. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
The day starts around 9 to 9.30 with coffee and a briefing at the restaurant where Richard explains where you'll go, what you'll be looking for and, most importantly, identifying those varieties you don't want to bring back. It's then into the bush with Richard close at hand to provide expert advice and to inspect the harvest.
After a couple of hours split into small groups and filling baskets with a host of tasty treats it's back to Olive Jones of Macedon where chef Mark will talk about and demonstrate how to prepare and use mushrooms in a variety of dishes.
It takes an experienced eye to tell the difference between safe and unsafe mushrooms. Mistaking these two 'look-alikes' could end with very serious consequences. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
He'll then head for the kitchen to cook up a fabulous 3-course lunch, using the mushrooms you've collected, for you to enjoy with a glass of local wine.
Depending on the level of interest Olive Jones of Macedon mushroom rambles will operate each Saturday and Sunday throughout the season, probably until late June or early July, except for Sunday 8th May, Mother's Day.
A good mushroom can provide the basis for a highly nutritious and low kilojoule meal. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Cost is $75 per adult and $35 for children for a half-day adventure and lunch prepared by a dynamic young chef in one of Victoria's great little regional restaurants. You'll be on your way home by 1.30 pm or thereabouts, armed with recipes & tips and perhaps some mushrooms to practice on.
Chef Mark Renoud inspects the harvest before cooking up a mushroom storm at Olive Jones of Macedon. Photo Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Macedon is 63 kilometres north of Melbourne, a leisurely 45-minute drive via the Calder Freeway/M79.
By the way, did you know that a mushroom is not a vegetable and it's not a fruit either. A mushroom is the fleshy body of a fungus and while all mushrooms are fungi not all fungi are mushrooms.