May 3, 2018
In 2018 the Truffle Festival – Canberra Region will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary. Over the past 10 years, the Festival has put the Canberra region on the map and is now considered a premier destination for a Black Winter Truffle experience in Australia.
With a variety of businesses and talent involved, the Truffle Festival is a flagship event for the food and wine industry in the region. The Festival includes truffle growers, chefs, accommodation providers, wineries and cooking schools, and puts the spotlight on Canberra’s renowned winter food scene, highlighting the range of high-quality gourmet experiences available.
So what makes these humble-looking fungi worthy of an entire festival? Here’s the what, why, where and when of truffles in the Canberra region.
Truffles are a fungus and grow under the ground due to a symbiotic relationship with the roots of particular trees (e.g. oaks and hazelnuts) infected with the appropriate mycorrhiza (literally, fungus root). They form in summer and slowly mature during autumn, ready to harvest in winter.
They can be found breaking the surface of the ground or down to 200 millimetres deep and are best located by a trained truffle dog, from the aroma released when they are ripe.
Well, they taste incredible. They can turn ordinary foods like eggs and pasta into gourmet creations, and they are very versatile and can be used in all sorts of dishes.
But it’s also the mysterious way they grow, the harvesting method, the prices they command; there are many reasons why truffles are fascinating to foodies the world over.
In the Canberra region of course, where the Black Winter Truffle (or Périgord) truffle reigns supreme. They can be found all through the Canberra region, right now under the ground in Sutton, Braidwood, Bungendore, Bredbo, Tarrago and Oallen they will be ripening.
Truffles also grow in other parts of Australia (notably Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania), and there are booming industries overseas of various truffle species.
In the Canberra region, there are numerous farms (or truffieres) involved in the production of these highly prized gems. You’re likely to meet the farmers behind the festival on a truffle hunt including:
Denzil & Anne Sturgiss at Tarago Truffles, Tarago
Barbara Hill at Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines, Bredbo
Wayne Haslam at Blue Frog Truffles, Sutton
Dick and Virginia Groot Obbink at Durran Durra Truffles, Braidwood
Damian Robinson at Turalla Truffles, Bungendore
Tricia Lockart at L'Air du Wombat Truffles Oallen
Just as important, but more cute and cuddlier (sorry guys!) are the truffle dogs. Hard-working and with a nose that knows, truffles can be found by any type of breed of well trained dog.
Also central to the festival are the numerous restaurants, cafes, breweries, wineries, cooking schools and sponsors who serve, market and educate about this gastronomic delight.
These guys like it cold. The first truffles generally start appearing in late May, and the season continues to late August.
It’s a very musty and sweet smell, a bit mushroomy, but with other aromas going on as well.
As to what it tastes like, some say if you hold your nose, you taste nothing. It cooperates with the flavours in the food, enhancing them and intensifying them. A steak with truffle sauce becomes meatier, eggs become a gourmet item, and the entire meal just tastes better.
You simply have to try them for yourself.
The Truffle Festival - Canberra Region runs from June - August 2018. To discover the full program for yourself, check out their website.