Truffle time in the Antipodes

Not very long ago, if you lived in Australia and wanted to taste truffles you needed to travel to Europe during truffle season - or else settle for something anonymous from a tin.

Not any more!

In the past 15 years or so, Australia has come of age with truffles now planted in most states. Growers supply top restaurants throughout the country and even export them. And in case you're wondering, yes, even to France!

In the Southern Hemisphere, the truffle season is from June to August and of course if you have them, why not celebrate them?

So let's see what's happening around the country over winter.

 

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Western Australia

One of the leading  truffle-growing states, there is much planned in WA for the months ahead.

In Manjimup, epicentre of WA's truffle growing  enterprises, the sixth annual  Truffle Kerfuffle will take place on June 24-26 at Fonty's Pool Caravan Park, Seven Day Road, Manjimup. A Truffle Degustation dinner will be held on June 25th.

More than 70 per cent of the black truffles produced in Australia come from the Southern Forests region of Western Australia. Truffle Kerfuffle is part  of a week-long festival highlighting regional food and wine.

 

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New South Wales

Truffles are popping up in several locations around this state, but two places you should not miss are Borrodell on the Mount, near Orange and Stroudover Cottage on the far south coast.

At Borrodell the famous Black Tie and Gumboot Truffle Hunt and Dinner has become one of Borrodell's most popular. So much so that two weekends are set aside to cater for all the enthusiasm and demand. And who wouldn't want to join in all the fun - being greeted upon arrival with a classic glass of warmed mulled wine, lead into the trufferie with Karyn and her Truffle dog Sully, finding a truffle or two or three, enjoying a five course feast featuring the Black Truffle, matched with Borrodell wine, and afterwards dancing the night away, all with gumboots on.

It's always a memorable night. In fact, they've been joined in the past by various chefs including Justin North and Lyndey Milan, who included it in her top five list of unmissable Australian Food Experiences!  So, unpack your best black tie attire, scrub the dirt off your designer gumboots, and book your ticket now.

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At Bemboka's Stroudover Cottage now is the time to plan your winter excursion to savour the combination of locally grown and produced foods with the magnificent black Perigord truffle. ??

On weekends from the end of June until early August there are eight opportunities for owner-chef Patrick to pamper guests with an exciting dinner menu featuring truffles in every course. 

 

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Australian Capital Territory

The Canberra  and Capital district may not have been the first region to grow truffles, but it is probably the most enthusiastic. The calendar spans three months of dinners, tours, cooking demonstrations and other events, making it possible to visit several times.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating things is to participate in a truffle hunt. And no, you can't keep what you find - in fact highly trained dogs do the 'finding' - but is it an exciting outing. See what happens, and don't forget to watch the video too.

With 40 participating venues, the 2013 Truffle Festival starts in June and continues until early/mid August.

Already there are reports of truffles being found. One year there was a 400gm truffle at Turalla. You can be sure there will be many more to follow. 

 

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Tasmania

Despite their famed reputation among the world's top chefs until recently very little was known in Australia about these rare delicacies that were, until recently, produced almost entirely in Europe.

Tasmania was the site of Australia's first Black Perigord Truffle in 1999. The discovery of the first truffle represented eight years of work for the growers and in the years since a small but successful truffle industry has been established in the state. With a climate similar to many of Europe's traditional truffle growing regions, Tasmania is producing truffles to the same high standard as Europe. The emergence of a truffle industry in the Southern Hemisphere has allowed fresh truffles to be available on a year round basis as the season runs opposite the European growing season.

Covered in dirt, truffles may not look like treasure to the uninitiated, but the worldwide annual truffle harvest has reduced dramatically in the past 100 years and as a result fresh truffle can now sell for up to $2000 per kilo.

 

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And now for something a little different..

Perigord Truffles of Tasmania's fresh cultured truffle butter is a collaboration with Pepe Saya, Australia's leading maker of cultured butter.

Made from 100 percent Australian cream, fresh from a local farm,Country Valley Dairy in Picton, NSW, it is delivered straight to the doors of the factory.

Cultured over a two-week period, it is churned and then shaped by the hardworking and loving hands of Pepe Saya's passionate team.

The cultured truffle butter is fresh for same day dispatch to ensure absolute freshness on arrival and are marketed in packs of four 25 gram individual portions.

 

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Truffle Trivia

But something you may not know is that Australia has its very own truffles. You won't find these indigenous, native truffles on anyone's menus, though. Not unless you're a potoroo, bandicoot or native mouse. These animals must be natural gourmets because they love them, digging them up from the base of paper bark trees, eucalypts, casuarinas, and many other native shrubs.

Read more

 

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Inspired?

So if  growing your own truffles seems like a good idea, contact  the Australian Truffle Growers Association for more information. Their Annual General  Meeting will be held  from 23-25 August, 2013 in Mittagong in the NSW Southern Highlands.

Perhaps the renowned epicurean writer Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) put it best in his preface to The Physiology of Taste (1825).

 "Whoever says truffle, utters a grand word, which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas..." .

 
Please comment .... what is your opinion of truffles?
 

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