My Big Gourmet Garden Aussie Adventure Day 3
After a whole 8 hours sleep I felt like a new woman on Thursday morning, although the strange 'moving feeling' of jet lag would wash over me from time to time unexpectedly. I was even organised enough to eat breakfast sitting down instead of while running to the bus.
Alberto and Patricia get acquainted with the furry head of the SJW mushroom farm welcome committee
We were taken to SJW mushroom farm to learn about, well, mushroom farming, which is a fascinating process. SJW, who produce over 30 tons of mushrooms a week, are a family run business spanning three generations so far. Steven, the farm owner and a real expert in the industry, showed us around the farm and explained the mushroom farming process. They grow three varieties of mushrooms which are distributed to supermarkets and restaurants.
Inside the mushroom growing rooms and freshly harvested big cup mushrooms at SJW mushroom farm.
The Power of Mushrooms is a campaign in Australia which aims to educate people about the health benefits of mushrooms. I had no idea that mushrooms were the only non-animal source of vitamin D, or that they could lower cholesterol. I also read on the site that recent research has shown that unique compounds in mushrooms may protect us from both breast and prostate cancer. Incredible. I'm a huge mushroom fan anyway, but now I'm a super fan.
After the tour of the mushroom farm we were treated to an outdoor lunch cooked by sisters Sammy and Bella, who sprung to fame after they won the Aussie cooking show My Kitchen Rules in 2011.
Lunch was something else - every course included mushrooms and was flavoured with Gourmet Garden herbs and spices. Starter was Duck and Swiss Brown Mushroom filled Wontons, floating in a Peking Duck Broth topped with strips of crispy duck skin. Main course was an egg net omelette filled with mussels, vegetables and mushrooms topped with pork belly drizzled with a caramel and cracked pepper sauce. The sauce was so good I could have drank it.
Three course mushroom feast made by Sammy & Bella and super cute flower & mushroom arrangements on the tables. I actually never wanted this meal to end.
Dessert was the most special though - mushroom shaped meringues, crunchy mushroom 'soil' (containing real mushroom, no soil and tasted amazing), chilli infused chocolate ganache, and ginger cream. The plate was garnished with tiny edible violets. Stunning and delicious.
Some people you can't help but love. Sammy & Bella are among these.
Sammy and Bella are not only excellent and highly creative chefs, they are also two of the nicest, most friendly and down to earth girls you could ever meet. They are hugely famous in Australia now but have their feet firmly on the ground. After working hard making us lunch, they sat and chatted to us, speaking candidly about their polish roots, their MKR experience and their lives since the show. To know them is to love them!
After lunch, and wine, we got back on board the minibus and drove to Palm woods for a tour of the Gourmet Garden head office and factory and a presentation from CEO Nick. Gourmet Garden are a family owned company and the factory has a real family atmosphere about it. I genuinely love Gourmet Garden anyway, but after visiting the factory I love them even more.
It was really interesting to see the processing equipment and hear about the processes - from farm to plate - in more detail. One of the highlights of the factory tour was wearing a large all in one white suit and a hair net.
Jay and I were particularly excited about our white suits!
We went for dinner at Season that evening where I tried barramundi for the first time. It was cooked beautifully, served with a Thai style sauce and topped with.... Mushrooms! After that I did not have mush-room for anything else. Hahahaha. (Actually not true as we ordered cheese)
Very good baramundi at Season
I made a little video of the day - unfortuntely I ran out of battery at the mushroom farm so only got a small video of the Gourmet Garden factory on my phone.