Coffee with The Market Cat

Friday morning the 17th June was spent with Orange local and culinary mushroom forager, Robbie…

Robbie, also known as The Market Cat, is a forager at heart. He first foraged in Canobolas State Forest way back in 1988. Since the eighties, he’s spent over 20 years foraging, learning and exploring various locations around the world including Japan and England.

Photography credit: Monique Lovick

From about March until June, a day in the office for Robbie is spent zig zagging through pine trees in Canobolas State Forest, foraging for mushrooms – the “office” has been booming the past couple of months. The recent wet weather conditions have been ripe for funghi. Robbie explained the moist conditions enable mushrooms to grow consistently.   

Canobolas State Forest has several varieties of mushrooms for foraging. This season, Robbie was picking three different varieties – Saffron Milk Caps, Wood Blewit and Slippery Jacks. In saying that, ninety five percent of this year’s harvest were Saffron Milk Caps – the conditions were ideal for these mushies.

Foraging is an art! Books and travel have been vital to Robbie’s development in foraging for culinary mushrooms. Robbie’s foraging skills and knowledge are mostly self taught. Chefs overseas have also played an important role in his extensive fungi journey.

As Robbie and I say farewell we talk about the fact that all good things must come to an end. It’s been a successful season for wild mushrooms but with only few more forages left on the card for this year, the focus for the last few outings into the forest will be to get mushrooms to then preserve.

Robbie enjoys foraging as it’s relaxing, meditative and a form of exercise. Multiple venues profit from his finds, including Groundstone Cafe and the Union Bank.

How does Robbie enjoy his mushies? Fried with pork fat, thyme and a dash of salt. Simple, fresh and seasonal!

Words: Helen Johnson – Digital Content Developer