Seated at the head of the table Gary Goldman looks just like a regular chap. But the two words embroidered on the breast pocket of his shirt reveal his passion: ‘Mushroom Guru’.
With two of Delheim Wine Estate’s formidable but friendly pack of Jack Russells perched on the bench beside me savouring the early afternoon sunshine, Goldman shares his plan to start a mushroom revolution.
After three career changes (he moved from diving to running a pub in Greece before taking a shot at IT), Goldman realised that he needed to do something different and became a stay-at-home dad. It was during this time that his love affair with mushrooms began. While walking in Newlands forest with his dogs, he discovered various wild mushrooms and started to do some research.
‘In SA mushroom foraging is taboo but given that there are over 100 000 species of mushrooms worldwide, mushroom hunting really should be a daily pastime.’
We are having this conversation over a delicious mushroom-inspired meal at the estate’s restaurant. A well-earned meal, might I add, after a busy morning of mycology and foraging for fungi. With baskets in hand and what I thought was a relatively good idea of what to look out for, our group of newbie mushroomers set out into the trees on the slopes of the hills surrounding the estate.
Our shared loot included a sizable number of orange pine rings and spongey Bay Boletus mushrooms, a handful of blushers and one giant porcini, also referred to as a mushroom hunter’s delight. I should also mention that as a group, we were rather successful at finding an impressive amount of inedible mushies too.
We were joined on our hunt by Delheim’s co-owner and avid forager Nora Sperling-Thiel. She grew up on the farm and learned to pick mushrooms from her mother, which inspired her to open Delheim to the public so that they could learn more about mushrooms and enjoy the fungal treats the estate has to offer.
Delheim hosted its first foraging event six years ago and at the time only a handful of people were interested in searching the forest for wild mushrooms. Today, the situation is a little different, Sperling-Thiel confesses, adding that she often has to turn people away. Mushroom hunting has become part of mainstream foodie culture, she continues, with the idea behind these events being to give people enough confidence to go out and pick mushrooms on their own.
To find out more about future foraging events contact Delheim Wine Estate on firstname.lastname@example.org.