Over the past decade, Australian truffles have seen increasing popularity in top restaurants, improving risottos, infusing eggs, and adding extra to lobster rolls, cream pies and everything in between.
This winter, Sydney residents can expect to see and sniff more truffles than ever before, thanks to a bumper crop of the prized mushroom and a growing appetite among diners to spend more on luxury fare.
For many truffle growers in Canberra and NSW, summer rains and a cold snap in late autumn have kicked off the truffle season fifteen days early.
“The season usually doesn’t start until mid-June, but orchard owners are already harvesting good truffles,” says Dick Groot Obbink, president of the Canberra Region Truffle Festival Association and owner of the Durran Durra truffle near Braidwood.
“We are delighted that the public can taste truffles this winter, because they will be so readily available.”
Harvested through September with the help of specially trained sniffer dogs, the truffles have an earthy flavor and an intense aroma of forest soil. The Périgord noir (tuber melanosporum) is the most common truffle in Australia, cultivated in the ground under a host tree.
Recent colder-than-average temperatures have resulted in heavier frosts in the Canberra area and more aromatic truffles to enhance scrambled eggs and roasted cabbages.
“The frost tends to burst the aroma of the truffle,” says Damian Robinson of Turalla Truffles near Bungendore.
“I don’t think anyone really understands why, but if you harvest it at this point, the intense scent of the truffle usually stays that way throughout the selling process.”
While all signs point to a better than average truffle harvest for farms on the east coast in Western Australia, the season is shaping up to be “an event every fifty years,” says Australian truffle merchants owner Gavin Booth, who grows truffles in Manjimup, a four hour drive south of Perth.
“The fall precipitation was very helpful, but we also had a long, balmy summer which helps grow truffles,” says Booth.
“I have received a lot of phone calls from customers in North America and Europe who have opened restaurants after five months of closure. The chefs are very enthusiastic.”
Bennelong and Quay’s executive chef, Peter Gilmore, uses both Manjimup and Canberra truffles in his gourmet harborside restaurants.
“We use two different truffles to support a wider range of farmers – both have great qualities and are great products,” he says.
Manjimup truffles take center stage in a bowl of quail ravioli and hazelnut black pork salami at Bennelong, while Quay features fragrant diamonds from the Terra Preta farm near Braidwood in a nut and truffle dumpling served as a surprise snack.
“The quality and quantity of Australian truffles is improving every year as more and more farmers go online,” says Gilmore. “The flavor is so similar to the [French] Perigord truffles, you can hardly taste or see the difference. “
Depending on the success of a season, Australia has become the third or fourth largest truffle producing country since the first domestic tuber melanosporum orchards were planted in the 1990s.
Truffle lovers don’t need to visit a prestigious restaurant for black gold these days, however. A myriad of cafes now offer truffles as an option on eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Redfern’s Three Williams Cafe has taken on the brunch challenge this season with a truffle menu featuring angel-haired carbonara with smoked caviar and truffle shavings donated by Chef Fabian Mucke for $ 36, and a tiramisu with espresso-martini truffle.
“Fabian came to see us from Restaurant Nel last year because we wanted a great chef to do more than just regular granola and toast,” says Toby Iaccarino, owner of Three Williams.
“Over $ 30 for a dish gets steep for a coffee, but there is a demand for it. Due to the pandemic, people are not going abroad and guests have become more eager to have a good ol ‘ brunch time on weekends. “
Truffle hunting in 2021
Expect to pay around $ 2.50 per gram at retail for truffles, depending on grade and quality. Five grams of truffle per person, per dish, that’s a generous budget.
Gourmet Life at Darling Point already stocks Tasmanian truffles and Simon johnson stores await delivery of Manjimup truffles on Friday. the Madame Truffles pop-up store – a small Disneyland of tubers – opens June 10 on Kensington Street, Chippendale.
For a real truffle hunt with avid farmers and mutts, Dick Groot Obbink recommends booking a date online as soon as possible. The Canberra region’s truffle festival program is packed with hunts, dinners and tastings, but places fill up quickly.
“Our hunts and lunches at Turalla have been full for almost two months,” says Damian Robinson. “Even though it says ‘reserved’ on our website, I still get 10 emails a day asking if anyone can be in a rush for a hunt. I’ve never seen such a request.”
For punters wishing to leave their truffle shavings to the chef, it would take less time to list hat restaurants. do not offering the optional fancy mushrooms during the winter. Here is a selection of some of the best truffle dishes found in the city.
Crown’s Italian foodie has launched a special truffle menu featuring truffles with wagyu carpaccio, candied artichokes and stracciatella for $ 59, served as an antipasto.
Ganymede Truffles’ black gold in the Southern Tablelands will be showcased from June 10 at Cook and Phillip Park’s premier venue for vegan miam-cha. Expect a $ 39 hand-torn noodle truffle creation inspired by mee hoon kueh, a traditional Malaysian-Chinese dish.
Mr. Wong, CBD
Chef Dan Hong loves truffles just as truffles love frost. The Australian Perigords will star in various specialties during the season at the Cantonese Lighthouse in Merivale, including wagyu and truffle soufflé dumplings ($ 16.50 for three).
Restaurant Hubert, CBD
The French bunker on Blight Street makes truffle soufflé vibrate all winter long; it’s a soufflé made with 24-month-old count, Swiss Gruyere and locally sourced black truffle for $ 30.
Burrata, hot pine nuts and truffles. What a simple and delicious time, the temple of the Crown product and fire. Oak-smoked salt and first-press olive oil from the Pukara estate bolster the $ 40 entry, which just might lead to a gleaming wood-roasted southern lobster with truffle butter.