The annual Truffle Festival – Canberra Region is now in full swing. But are you wondering what all the fuss and kerfuffle is about?
The word truffle has always conjured up images for me of the French countryside and expensive Michelin starred restaurants. At approximately $2000 per kilogram, it was not an ingredient that I thought was within my budget or my geographic vicinity. However with the variety of events ranging from gourmet degustation dinners, café style dishes, pastries, cooking classes and demonstrations, farmers markets, and truffle hunts on during the annual winter The Truffle Festival – Canberra Region, the much prized and adored fungi are very much within reach and accessible to everyone.
Originally from the south of France, truffles are ideally suited to the climate of the Canberra region. The extreme heat in the summer, coupled with our cold frosty winters and dry days, make it an ideal breeding ground. The truffieres in the region are mainly family businesses who with research, careful selection of a location, quality tree stock, and good soil management, are at the forefront of an emerging truffle industry in Australia.
We have come up with the top three ways to enjoy truffles this season.
One of the most unique paddock to plate experiences available in the region is going on a truffle hunt – and now is the perfect time to hunt and harvest the little nuggets of black gold.
I have been lucky enough to have gone on a hunt this season at the launch of the festival at Tarago Truffles. Located just 50 minutes outside of Canberra, Tarago’s lush rolling hills were a beautiful backdrop to this very unique experience.
Our hunt was led by Damian from Turalla Truffles and his trusty truffle dog Frisbee. The French use pigs to seek out ripe truffles, but in Australia, we use dogs because they don’t eat the truffles. The dogs are happy to work for treats (and are much better company).
Damian was a wealth of information on all things truffle and Frisbee proved to be a true professional on our hunt, quickly picking up a scent. Following his nose with purpose to the base of a tree, Frisbee showed Damian the “spot” by stopping and pawing.
I was surprised how close to the surface the truffle appears to be. Only a small gardening tool (a spoon) was required to carefully dig, scrape and brush the dirt around the truffle, before it was successfully unearthed. The chance to then touch, smell and photograph the freshly dug truffle was quite an unexpected thrill for everyone on the hunt. For an ingredient that was so unfamiliar, we were all wildly excited about holding and smelling it.
On the hour long hunt, Frisbee had a number of several successful finds and digs much to the excitement and delight for our group. This also yielded some well deserved treats for our trusty truffle dog.
For a full list of hunts available as part of The Truffle Festival – visit https://www.trufflefestival.com.au/hunt
Cooking with Truffles
Andrew from 3Seeds cooking school in Fyshwick believes in removing the mystique and fear surrounding truffles. He encourages home cooks to make the most of any purchased truffles by infusing, marinating and layering truffle flavours throughout the meal and not just using shavings of truffle as a garnish on top of dishes.
From a truffle workshop to a kids truffle pasta class it is all deliciously covered in the cooking school’s winter schedule – http://3seeds.com.au/index.php/schedule/
Located inside Hotel Realm in Barton, the Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar chefs have curated a specially designed dinner menu to showcase the wonderful black truffle which includes ‘Tommy’s Bloody Mary’ – a timeless cocktail spun with truffle oil.
To drool over the rest of the menu – http://domahotels.com.au/realm/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Truffle-Menu-2016-1.pdf
If you love Italian food, like we do head into Bicicletta Restaurant in the NewActon precinct for a taste of their truffle menu featuring ‘Costolette D’manzo’ – Rangers Valley Wagyu Ribeye on a bed of sautéed kale, bread bean puree, crispy cauliflower and truffle glaze…….seriously delicious!
For more Italian winter warmers, have a look at the full truffle menu available until the end of July – http://static1.squarespace.com/static/56d0d83345bf211437ee710b/t/5771f1d5ebbd1a7fc3390a13/1467085271348/truffle+menu+2016+-+Second+Edition.pdf
For a truly special and indulgent experience, C Seafood & Oyster Bar located on the Kingston Foreshore are hosting a Truffle, Caviar & Wine degustation on Thursday the 28th of July. Featuring a 7-course degustation with special guests, Fergus McGhie from Mt Majura Vineyard, Jayson Mesman from The Truffle Farm and Janet Gavey from The Essential Ingredient.
To book call C Seafood & Oyster Bar (02) 6239 5299