Should I move back to Adelaide?
I moved to Melbourne in 2002 but after receiving photos of Porcini gathered in the Adelaide Hills, I am tempted to return.
Yes, Porcini, the large family of wild and meaty mushroom with a rich flavour. Porcini belong to the Boletus genus and there are about 12 different species. When I was living in Adelaide I did collect wild Mushrooms, but never Porcini.
I knew that Porcini were in the Adelaide Hills, somewhere secret.
I had bought and still have a very scientific publication, a handbook of Flora and Fauna of South Australia printed by the South Australian Government in 1976 : Toadstools And Mushrooms and Other Larger Fungi of South Australia, by John Burton Cleland MD.
Dried Porcini have been available from specialised stores for a long time in Australia and are most commonly used to make mushroom risotto. As you’d expect mushrooms have an intense flavour and fragrance when dried. My mother use to add dry porcini to enrich a strong, slow cooked sugo (ragù –ragoût). My polish friend wouldn’t dream of making sauerkraut without some dry mushrooms; her Pierogi stuffed with sauerkraut are marvellous. Dry mushrooms added to a fresh mushroom braise make a fabulous topping for polenta.
These latest photos were sent by Adelaide friends who wish to make me jealous. and entice me to move back to South Australia.
This Porcino (by the way, porcino means ‘little pig’) and it is easy to see why … weighed about 425g. Now, how many would you need to make one risotto?
Italians are very enthusiastic about Porcini and they can be found in all regions of Italy. I have been in Paris and in Tokyo when the Porcini mushrooms first hit the market – a very exciting time for locals … I must like to travel in Autumn!
A few years ago I visited Calabria and the host, a family friend, took me to a restaurant in the Sila, a National Park whose woods are a fertile mix of conifers, interspersed with larch pine, beech, chestnuts and white fir trees. In this particular restaurant every dish featured mushrooms as the main ingredient … pickled, raw and cooked. Marvellous.
Local produce, local food. On that particular day I ate more than mushrooms….there are chestnut trees growing in the Sila. I ate dark bread made with chestnut flour. Pasta is also made with chestnut flour. There are cinghiali – wild pigs/boars and deer in these mountains, too. Just the thing to get the cacciatore’s pulses racing. I ate the chestnut bread with a prosciutto made from the wild boar. And we stopped on the side of the road and drank fresh (freezing) water from a spring on the side of a mountain.
In Adelaide, the Porcini are being sold at the Adelaide Central Market and other places, one friend reported seeing them at his local greengrocer.
My daughter works at an eatery called Minestra that specialize in using produce that locals offer to the eatery… I call it an eatery because it is more like a trattoria than a restaurant and they had Porcini on their take away menu last week. Lucky them and how generous was one of their patrons!
I am a lover of the saffron coloured pine mushroom and do not mind a Slippery Jack or two, especially when they are picked young. Slippery Jacks are fantastic when dried. Easy to do, slice them if they are too large or you wish them to dry quickly, Place them on a cloth near a heater … but not too close, you do not want them to cook…. turn them once or twice and when dry, store them in a jar.
And do not worry, my friends will be respectful and not trample and destroy the mushroom habitat…unfortunately, non-professionals collecting mushrooms can damage the beds.
Below are some pine mushrooms also collected in the Adelaide Hills.
There are a number of recipes for mushrooms on my blog.