Truffles that is, as the Australian season kicks off just in time to ally the fears of any northern hemisphere gourmands who may be fearing the long, truffle-less months to come.
Native to Europe, black truffles (tuber melanosporum) grow in the roots of hazelnut and oak trees, as well as a few other select trees.
The industry in Australia started in the 1990’s in Tasmania and Western Australia, with truffle farmers inoculating the roots of oak and hazelnut trees with the spores of black truffles. The first truffles were harvested in Tasmania in 1999. Today there are many small ‘truffières’ in Australia, in all states but the Northern Territory with production creeping up to the stage that we are almost on par with France.
Truffles from Western Australia’s Truffle & Wine Co will be on the menu at Effervescence Champagne Festival’s 3 Chef Truffle Lazy Long Lunch this year (Sunday, September 1) – places are limited, so book your tickets quickly.
In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here’s the lowdown on truffles from acclaimed French Michelin-starred chef and enthusiast Bruno Loubet and Effervescence’s very own ‘The Truffle Lady,” Amanda Reboul.
BRUNO LOUBET, Chef
What’s so special about truffles?
Truffles are seasonal and for a small period of the year. The earthy scent of truffles is like no others and is quite hypnotising, some would even say sexy!
How do you like to use them?
Truffles make their way in many different dishes during the festive season in France. I love to pair truffles with a humble ingredient to lift the dish to another level. For example, I used to do a hot onion custard coated with a Tome cheese sauce buried under grated truffles. My favourite way to eat them at home is grated on lightly scrambled eggs with a piece of grilled sourdough toast. Simply delicious and the best start of the day.
What’s your opinion of Australian truffles?
I remember the first time I tasted Australian truffles, it was a bit of a revelation. To be honest I could not imagine that one day I would say that they are comparable to the European ones.
AMANDA REBOUL, The Truffle Lady
How much to do truffles cost?
Truffles retail for $2800/kg, but most people would only need to purchase 50g for a dinner party for 4 people, so that would ‘only’ set you back $140
What’s the best way to store truffles?
Truffles are best stored wrapped in absorbent paper towel in an airtight container. Putting them in rice is not really recommended because the rice dehydrates the truffle and they start to shrivel up.
Do you have a favourite restaurant dish?
Taro’s Ramen in Ascot in Brisbane makes this amazing truffle ramen, which is something a little bit different.
How do you like to use them at home?
I like having them with very simple dishes – truffled scrambled egg is one of my favourite ways, or with pasta and a creamy sauce.