from the dirt comes autumn pleasures

Wild mushroom and pancetta soup (with added porcini and heaps of Bruny Island Pepper) Untitled

One of my favourite things in life is tackling the whole process of making a meal from scratch, especially taking joy in the sourcing of ingredients (not saucing...although that can be fun too). It's not just a matter of going to the fridge and grabbing the required ingredients that's a bit dull don't you think, I like something much more fulfilling, and foraging fills that need. The most enjoyable parts are the longing for the change in season, the first hints of weather change, then the strapping on of leather boots, driving somewhere beautiful and most importantly sharing the experience with someone you love.

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Summer seems to be hanging on like a hollywood cliff hanger. The night sky is clear and the temperature drops, the days start cool but the sun still has enough warmth in it to work up a sweet on your brow playing in the garden. Not that I've been spending a great deal of time in the garden. Instead I've been out with my manly woven baskets under my arm, prancing in the forests looking down for autumn goodies, mostly in the form of mushrooms and nuts (walnuts and chestnuts).

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The weather hasn't yet convinced me that the season has changed completely, and the reason for this theory is that the wild mushrooms are still very much in sporadic distribution. They're mostly found in gully's and drainage ruts where the soil is moist and the sunlight dappled. In spots that get direct sun the mushrooms are yet to appear, but when they do come when it cools down they come in large numbers and hang around for many months providing and endless supply of autumn culinary treasure.

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My tomato crop is at it's end, even though we're still getting plenty of sunny days it's just not hot enough to ripen the remaining fruit on the vine. So I've moved from tomato bruschetta for breakfast to wild mushrooms and chorizo cooked in a white wine garlic sauce. It's such a treat that I look forward to at the end of each summer. When we get little patches of cool weather I can't help but jump in the old jeep and wander through the forests checking my secret spots for any hint of the Saffron Milk Cap or the Slippery Jacks. Either one will do. In a few months time I'll once again tire of the seasonal glut and move onto the next most abundant item. But for now I relish every mushroom meal. It's autumn on my plate.

Please don't forage for mushrooms if you're unsure what species they are. These two are unknown to me so I don't pick them. I follow the rule, never pick anything that you don't know 110% way it is.

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