Mushrooming in Kuipo Forest

Sunday, March 27:

Another day of pure pleasure searching for the rare cepe mushrooms in Kuitpo Forest.

Cepe is a rare mushroom in Australia, but sells for up to 100 Euros a kilogram in France because its unique flavour is prized by the French..

Few Australians know of cepe unless they have seen the price tag in a French village marketplace.   In France, forests,where cepes grow are jealously guarded by locals.

Cepes grow in Fleurieu Peninsula pine forests, but Australians ignore these distinctive mushrooms because their yellow cap curls with age.

However, Olivier has a fetish for cepe and he finds a small  puffy mushroom on his morning  walk on Hindmarsh Island.  “Once the mushrooms pop up, we need to go to Kuitpo Forest,’’ he declares.

So, we take the Meadows Road from the Victor Harbor Road, another new route on the fascinating Fleurieu Peninsula.  Soon, we find the cellar door sign for Magpie Springs Winery Cellar Door and because I am behind the wheel, we deviate to taste its wine range.

Quelle Surprise! The vigneron here is renowned local artist, Roe Gartelmann, and her cellar door is also her gallery and art studio, with wonderful art displayed on its walls. She exhorts us to try Magpie Springs’ 2005 Pinot Noir, which she proudly says has been named equal top of the magazine Wine State’s prize list for cool region wines.

“Ours is the first winery in the Adelaide Hills Wine Region,’’ she tells us.

Wow! We live within cooee of five wine regions – Southern Fleurieu, McLaren Vale, Currency Creek, Langhorne Creek and only 20 minutes from home, is also the Adelaide Hills Wine region.

Roe Gartelman’s whole cellar door/ art gallery environment is as much an attraction as her prize-winning wine, not the least being the strange hobbit-like dwelling which acts as her cellar door/gallery/studio.

Her humble, utterly eclectic hand-built cellar door and galvanised iron studio has a veranda propped up by tree trunks and mud bricks hold together the whole eclectic gathering of recycled windows and doors.

We sample the prized Magpie Springs 2005 Pinot Noir and take our glasses into Roe’s garden and, (sheer joy) suddenly we come upon many mushrooms  as big as tea cups. They have popped up through mulch under the gumtrees and we ask to pick some.

“We don’t need to go to Kuitpo,’’ I say, hopefully. “Here they all are.’’

“They are not cepe,’’ is Monsieur’s retort.

We take our leave with a 2005 Pinot Noir,  the 2006 Merlot and three spice jars of exotic Australian native spices.

A few kilometres further on we strike Kuitpo Forest, but opposite, I spy an exotic garden surrounding the strangely-named Lazy Ballerina Winery cellar door.

Husband is not happy, to be so near his goal and diverted. But we discover this manicured garden has been restored phoenix-like following bushfire.

We take coffee to soak up the late afternoon autumn sun on the decking before departing with two bottles of Lazy Ballerina 2010 Viognier wine soruced from McLaren Vale wine region.

Its almost 5pm. Not surprisingly Olivier drives and his Gallic eye soon spots round yellow blobs of color from behind the wheel.  So we wend our way through the pine needles to gather two kilograms of cepe worth hundreds of dollars if sold in France.

Guess what we have for dinner?  Omelette aux cepes a la ventreche. (Recipe is on My French Kitchen blog.)

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3 Comments to “Mushrooming in Kuipo Forest”

  1. By Serena, 01/04/2011 @ 7:01 am

    YUM. I was just talking with Eva about your love of mushroom hunting. Will you take us there next Autumn? love
    Serena x

  2. By Marie Jonsson-Harrison, 12/05/2011 @ 10:53 pm

    Oh and I am sooo with Serena, we both love mushrooms Bryan and I, especially freshly picked. I couldn’t find the recipe that you mentioned but either crepes with mushroom or omelette with mushroom will do me! Yum!
    Love Marie xxx

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