I have some very exciting news to share with you all today. The restaurant kitchens of Adelaide are all buzzing with the hottest food news around – the confirmed discovery of wild Adelaide-hills grown Porcini mushrooms!
This magnificent specimen is one of a haul of about 4 kilograms of locally found Porcini that made it’s way to Marco Marinelli, The Mushroom Man, this week – and is among the first to be found growing wild in Australia.
The timing of the appearance of this gourmet treat simply couldn’t have been more advantageous. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to take part in an Adelaide Central Market tour and luncheon hosted by the South Australian Tourism Commission, along with a group of Eastern states journalists. While I was waiting to meet with my group, I bumped in to Marco who gleefully told me his very exciting news. As our Central Market and Central Market kitchen excursion was intended to specifically showcase the outstanding food produce, products and talents that we enjoy here in South Australia, I wasted no time in sharing this remarkable announcement with my gobsmacked associates.
Porcini are considered to be the most highly prized of the edible fungi and are valued for their meaty texture and nutty flavour. They grow wild under Oak trees throughout most of Europe and are to be found in Poland, France and Croatia. By far, the worlds largest supplier of these tasty morsels is Italy where they are a particular favourite and sometimes known as “poor man’s meat”. While it is possible in Australia to obtain some fresh Porcini which have been imported from Europe, they do not travel well and the dried versions are most commonly used by Australian cooks and chefs. As I wrote last week, the stories of wild Porcini in Australia have been around for quite some time so the actual presentation of the real thing has caused much excitement in culinary circles. This excitement is heightened by the knowledge that wild Porcini are often found growing in the same areas as that other rare, prized and extremely costly fungal favourite – wild truffles – so hope is springing in many a local foodie chest at the moment.
Only a very few of Adelaide’s chefs were able to get hold of these mushrooms and they are being treated with all the respect one would expect. Chef Toby Gush of noted Adelaide Italian restaurant, Chianti Classico added to his menu a dish of fresh chestnut pasta accompanied by a dried Porcini sauce with fried, fresh Porcini folded through it – but you had to be quick! One or two other chefs managed to get hold of a few for themselves, but Vince Montagna of Vincenzo’s Cucina Vera has the lions share and is planning a national debut for them!
As for the splendid mushroom pictured – it was reverently handed over to Cole Thomas and Lachlan Colwill (of The Manse). They were charged with gastronomically seducing our group of Melbourne and Brisbane journalists using the exemplary South Australian produce which is available, including Cleanseas South Australian Kingfish, Coorong Angus Beef, Barossa Valley Cheese Company cheeses and a selection of our wines. We were a largeish group, so there wasn’t a lot of mushroom each, but what there was, sliced and fried, was simply wonderful!