Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly life -

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.

With Ary­lene West­lake-Jen­nings

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