WHAT’S ALL THE TRUFFLE KERFUFFLE?
CHEFS say there is no smell or taste like it in the culinary world.
“Perhaps blue or surface mould cheese comes close to that feral quality that captures something very deep within our senses, but that pheromonelike pull is certainly hard to fully describe beyond earthy, forest floor, funky, nutty, woody,” Foragers’ Sophie Zalokar said.
And that’s perhaps what has drawn me to attend this year’s Truffle Kerfuffle in Manjimup, in its sixth year and presented by Genuinely Southern Forests.
Normally it would take the promise of a warm and toasty spa retreat to get me to go down south during the winter months, but I am braving it at the end of this month for that glorious, charcoal lump of tuber melanosporum.
The black truffle is the third-most expensive food in the world and prized for that beguiling aroma, and it may come as a surprise that more than 70 per cent of premium black truffles produced in Australia come from our Southern Forests. And it is for these very reason chefs, producers and food lovers take time out each year to celebrate this sought-after fungi.
“Truffle Kerfuffle is a community event that explores and offers so much of the food-rich capital of the Southern Forests region,” Zalokar said.
“It is, of course, a celebration of the extraordinary black truffle, however it also offers the opportunity to bring together our beautiful winter produce prepared by some seriously good WA tal- ent and the wonderful producers themselves in one of the area’s most beautiful and historical locations.”
The rich farming heritage, crisp air and fertile soils of the region deliver some of the most delectable produce including wine, marron, beef, dairy, pork, lamb and many types of fruit, vegetables and nuts.
Visitors to the weekend-long celebration, at historical Fonty’s Pool, get to be hands-on in their experiences, tasting throughout the festival or getting their fix at one of the many exclusive dining events.
Hot-ticket events include Feast & Fire with Duncan Welgemoed (Africola, Adelaide) and Paul Iskov (Fervor), the Truffle Hunters Breakfast with Jesse Blake (Petition Kitchen), and the Chef’s Cabin sessions, where participants will learn from mentors such as Aaron Carr (Vasse Felix) and Rodney Dunn (The Agrarian Kitchen, Tasmania) by watching, touching and tasting their way to new culinary skills.
One event I refuse to miss out on is a truffle hunt, where I can join the search for those prized fungi.
Left: On the scent during a truffle hunt. Right: Fresh black truffles shaved to finish off a dish.