Q: What is the largest living organism in the world? 

A key sign that local mushrooms are at their peak season, is the arrival of the wild mushrooms at the markets. Mushrooms traditionally flourish following the onset of Autumn rains in Australia and after a wet summer in NSW they are already at the markets and great eating. 



The most common mushroom variety in Oz, Agaricus mushrooms are commonly sold by developmental stage rather than variety and are available all year round.

BUTTON (aka Champignon):


Youngest stage, it is tightly closed at stem, very firm and has a mild flavour which intensifies with cooking. Picked for stage of development, not size and can outsize cups

Best Use: Firm and hold shape well when cooked, great fresh in salads 




Most versatile, slightly open at stem to show a little gill, rich flavour and colour

Best use: Very versatile, stuff, slice, dice into soups, casseroles and sauces




Mature mushroom with flat cup and highly visible gills. These have a more intense flavour, meaty texture and rich colour

Best use: Best cooked. Think tempura, tapenades and roasting


There are two strains of Agaricus Bisporus commonly available:



Preferred by supermarkets. White mushrooms are a mutant strain (identified in 1926) that gained popularity due to their clean, fresh look and light mushroom flavour


SWISS BROWN (aka Honey Brown, Roman Brown, Italian Brown, Crimini): 

 Swiss Brown appear much the same as their white kin, however they are tan-dark brown in colour. They also differ in flavour with a deeper, earthier mushroom taste which is suited to risottos, antipasto platters and casseroles 

PORTABELLA: aka Portobello, Portabello 


The Portabella is a ‘Swiss Brown’ that has matured to the ‘flat’ stage of development. They are large, meaty, earthy and a fantastic substitute for meat on the BBQ

Best use: Grill, roast, BBQ


WILD PINE MUSHROOMS: aka Saffron Milk Caps, Orange Fly Caps


A fleeting Autumn crop, fresh Wild Pine Mushrooms are highly valued by food lovers. Locally produced in pine plantations, these are identifiable by their saffron-light brown cap, gills and short stem. They have a firm texture and a lovely spicy, nut flavour. Be sure to remove stems before use

Best use: When young and tender they are great in fresh pasta and omelettes. As they get older they get tougher, and are best suited to slow cooking in sauces and casseroles




A late Autumn crop the Slippery Jack is hard to come by but valued for their delicate texture and strong flavour. They have a chestnut-brown cap characterised by its slimy wet appearance and a yellow spongy underside. It is best to peel Slippery Jacks as the slimy cap can cause gastric upset 

Best use: Cooked when very fresh. Good for soups, frying or stewing

To get the most of the mushroom season we can only hope the rain eases. For while mushrooms need a good rain to get going, excessive rain can affect quality and in the case of wild varieties prevent access to crops and therefore limit supply.

A: It’s not the blue whale, but rather a Honey Mushroom colony that covers a staggering 8.9km² area of Malheur National Forest in Oregon, USA. Proven to be the same organism through DNA testing, the colony is believed to be over 2,400 years old and still growing. The organism is a parasitic fungus that grows on tree roots and spreads via shoestring like tendrils, it is identifiable by its yellow capped mushrooms and the swathe of dead trees it leaves in its wake


Q: With the urban sprawl of Sydney, do we have truly local produce available? 

The Crave, Sydney International Food Festival is well and truly underway with Sydneysiders (and travelling foodies) basking in the glow of World Class chefs and the latest food trends. Despite its international focus, the festival keeps some things close to home. The 100 mile meal challenge, is a series of events that throw down the gauntlet to Sydney chefs, challenging them to host an event where their menu is made up entirely of locally grown produce. There are over twenty 100 mile meal events being held this year, with sustainability champion Jared Ingersoll from Cotton Duck going so far as to host a 10 mile waddle.

 Outside of the Crave Festival, Sydney chefs are increasingly requesting local produce; actively embracing the market culture and the benefits of using seasonal ingredients with low food miles. A prime example is the redesign of Café Opera at the Intercontinental Hotel, where Executive Head Chef Tamas Pamer and Executive Sous Chef Julien Pouteau took on the challenge of using seasonal, locally produced ingredients in their signature buffet.

 Simon George & Sons works closely with Sydney producers and has a strong offering of local produce this Spring, much of which is grown within 50 miles of Sydney, never mind 100! To prepare your palate for the 100 Mile Meals series, here is a snapshot of some of our best produce from close to home:


Exotic Mushrooms-  Oyster (white, pink, yellow), Nameko, Enoki, Gold Enoki, Porcini, Shimeji, Shitake, Swiss Brown, Woodear

Heirloom Carrots-  Purple, White, Yellow

Carrots-  Golfball, Dutch

Beetroot-  Standard, Baby Beetroot, Baby Goldne Beetroot

Edible Flowers-  Season about to start 

Asian Veges-  Most ranges

Zucchini Flowers


Tomatoes-  Truss, Cherry Truss, Roma

Hydroponic Lettuce-  Baby Cos

Lettuce-  Cos, Iceberg

Garden Vegetables-  Shallots, Spring Onions, Radish etc

Herbs-  Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme etc

Sprouts and Shoots-  Bean Sprouts

Cucumber-  Telegraph, Lebanese




English Spinach






Get into the spirit of 100 Mile Meals with your own local produce menu. Contact Simon George & Sons for more information on this season’s best local produce.   

A: Yes. Greater Sydney produces 7% of the state’s total agriculture and 12% of its total vegetables. The Sydney region overall produces 90% of the fresh Asian vegetables consumed in the state and 80% of its fresh mushrooms (Ecos Magazine).  In 05/06, the Hawkesbury produced $61 million worth of veges, fruit and eggs, Penrith $32 million, Liverpool 19million, Camden $17milion and Campbelltown $3.4 million (Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036). Now that’s true local.