Australian Mushroom Growers Association lunch

This mushroom-themed lunch is put on by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association each year. I was invited along to this year’s event, “Button Bliss Spa and Cup Cafe”, hosted by JKPR  at 66 on Ernest (the College of Tourism and Hospitality/South Bank TAFE’s restaurant).

Oh yes. There was going to be spa treatment (hand massages and make up touch ups) along with a delicious lunch consisting of appetisers and a 3-course menu! Ever so indulgent. I have had spa treatments only twice in my life and they were… interesting (ask me in person). Nevertheless, I enjoyed the hand massage from student beauty therapists – and the make up touch up (despite not wearing make up to touch up in the first place).

I freaking love mushrooms. Have I mentioned that before? However, at times, they’re more expensive than meat, even from the markets! A rich, earthy mushroom medley risotto with truffle oil is a gloriously indulgent favourite of mine. And I make a bangin’ one if I say so myself.

The mushroom lunch crowd consisted of various mushroom growers, mixed media personalities from radio stations, journalists from newspapers and a handful of food bloggers and Instagrammers. Always a bit of fun talking to strangers *internal panic*

But you know what, I’m here for the food. I’m always up for some mushroom appreciation.

I really loved the deep-fried sesame mushroom and camembert with sauce Cumberland (think redcurrant jelly). Crunchy exterior but creamy on the inside, with the sauce cutting through the richness. The sesame seed crunch akin to sesame prawn toast with that similiar spongey texture. Party food 101. The duck liver and mushroom pate was not bad, a little dry on the surface, like it had been left uncovered in a fridge for too long. Regardless, it was elegant and the pate was great with the citrusy-sweetened orange jam.

The entree was a very concentrated “double strength” clear consomme with a mushroom dumpling. The soup was intense – like ordering a triple shot coffee, bolt of shock intense. The dumpling was much more refined in flavour, with the pastry skin  delicately, silky smooth.

The main was a whole roasted veal tenderloin. Half way through this, I began to regret eating as many appetisers as I did. The pommes dauphinoise along with the mushroom cream sauce were the stand outs. The potatoes in slippery, impossibly thin, countless layers. The mushroom sauce with just a bit of tangy acidity was a fantastic combination with the veal.

Inbetween the CEO of AMGA came out and said a few words about the power of mushrooms, their health benefits and such. I knew this secret already but..

Did you know that leaving mushrooms out in the sunlight for an hour before cooking helps them produce vitamin D?

Other cool nutiritional facts can be found here.

Dessert was a mystery – mushroom meringues? Turns out they were adorable mushroom-shaped meringues. The mousse was more of a thick, stodgy paste which lacked the lightness that I expect from more traditional mousse. The strong chocolate flavour was bittersweet in contrast to the tart raspberry sorbet. It was a refreshing palate cleanser to end quite a rich lunch.

Fine food, especially from chefs-in-training. The setting was wonderful and surprisingly quiet despite the usual students bustling about downstairs. The waitstaff were attentive and eager to please. I was impressed by the students’ professionalism all round.

I’ve been meaning to head along to one of the many awesome-valued degustation events put on for 66 on Ernest for a while. After the lunch, I’ll definitely be making sure I get along next time.

For more information, check out these links:

**Note: I was an invited guest on behalf of JKPR and the Australian Mushroom Growers Association.

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