Mushroom foragers like Robbie Robinson have long known of the wild delicacies that can be found on forest floors throughout the Orange region.
For over a decade now, the forager has sent his fungi finds from Canobolas State Forest to fine dining restaurants in Sydney, Brisbane and Byron Bay.
"There's no shortage of clients. The hardest things is just the logistics of.... getting [fresh mushrooms] to the client in peak condition," he said.
In more recent years, the wild forest mushrooms have wound up on the menus of more local eateries like the Union Bank, Sister's Rock Restaurant and Nile Street Café.
"I often just go straight from the forest to [the Union Bank restaurant], so the freshness of them during high-season would just blow you away because [the chef] has them on the table that night," Mr Robinson said.
"It's the ultimate experience to enjoy wild food which we eat very little of these days."
As the forests around Orange again get set to bloom with fungi foliage, gourmet tourists hunting for unique food experiences will be able to join Mr Robinson's foraging tours. It will be the first time he has hosted groups in the forests where he has gathered mushrooms since the mid-1980s.
"People want to forage. People want the experience of foraging, which I can understand," he said.
"We're going to do a forage in Canobolas [State Forest] and then we're going to Borrodell [Estate] where participants can do a three-course meal featuring mushrooms at the restaurant."
One of the best seasons for foraging in Orange had been 2020, but with none of the restaurants Mr Robinson supplied being open due to the pandemic, most of the mushrooms he picked needed to be preserved.
Fortunately, pine saffron and slippery jack - the two main varieties which sprout throughout Canobolas State Forest between March and July - "preserve really well".
The biggest challenge as a mushroom tour guide though is trying to pick the right day for the extremely weather-dependent activity.
Sometimes Mr Robinson will announce a tour via his business's - The Market Cat - Instagram page with no more than 48 hours' notice.
"The mushrooms aren't always there for people's convenience," he explained.
"People [will say to me], 'We want to come up and forage on this day' but it doesn't work that way. This is something that comes and goes like the weather so I can't promise anything."
However, he's confident that conditions will be good for his first planned foraging tour date on March 20.
To book join one of his tours, head to Mr Robinson's Instagram page (themarketcat).
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
HAVE YOUR SAY
- Send us a letter to the editor using the form below