It’s one of the most anticipated seasons of the year. No, not winter (though that is pretty special in Margaret River); it’s truffle season. Not excited yet? You will be as soon as you read about the following ways to get your fix of one of the world’s most expensive and highly sought after ingredients.
Whether you are a truffle novice or a long-time lover of the earthy delicacy, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate this ruler of the fungi kingdom. The region’s top chefs have been hard at work creating some mouth-watering dishes; inspiration is plentiful when the first truffles of the year arrived in their hands.
Located just 130kms from Margaret River, Manjimup is one of the only places on the planet to experience the excitement of a truffle hunt in person. There are divine truffle infused products to take back with you: the unmistakable aroma is guaranteed to take home cooked dinners to the next level. June even sees an entire festival dedicated to this umami flavoured fungi. But if you can’t make it along, plenty of the region’s chefs seize the opportunity to incorporate the truffle’s rich flavours into their winter menus for the enjoyment of all.
So, what’s the best way to start exploring the wonderful world of truffle? Get down to where they grow and sample some for yourself. The hunt is on.
One of the region’s most decadent accommodation options, Cape Lodge is up there as one of Australia’s luxury lodges. What better way to indulge in truffle hedonism than to take a deluxe mini-break? Enjoy a relaxing spa in your suite before meandering down the garden path for a truffle inspired dinner at the restaurant.
Under the artful eye of Chef Tony Howell (Chef Tone), the menu is classically French in style – you couldn’t get a more perfect pairing for this special ingredient. Dishes such as French gnocchi, beurre blanc, spinach, comte, and freshly harvested shaved truffle are just the beginning. For foodies that like to come home from a holiday inspired to get into their own kitchen, you can learn first-hand from Chef Tone on June 15 at Cape Lodge’s Black Mushrooms and Truffle Cooking Class. Your culinary flames will be fuelled with a cooking demonstration before sitting down and devouring a three course long table lunch.
Truffle & Wine Co
Western Australia’s first ever truffière is a pretty good place to start your journey into the world of truffle discovery – and it’s just a short drive outside the Margaret River region. A visit to Manjimup’s Truffle & Wine Co is a memorable experience and not just thanks to the heady aroma of the luxurious fungi that abounds here. Founded in 1997, thanks to the microclimate and plenty of hard work, the company is now the largest producer of black Périgord truffles in the world. One of the most expensive culinary ingredients on the market, they retail at about $3000/kg, so there’s definitely basis for their nickname as the ‘black diamond’ of truffles.
Why exactly are they so rare, and so expensive? This is the spot to learn the answer and much more about these beauties. Only growing on the roots of oak and hazelnut trees, it took six years from the planting of the first inoculated trees before the first truffle was discovered. A game of patience which has now resulted in over 40 kilometres of truffle producing trees among the beautiful surrounds of the property.
Ready for the ultimate hands-on encounter? This is one of the few truffières in the world that allows a select number of people to participate in the exhilarating experience of a truffle hunt. Only on offer during the winter months, you’ll get to join in and feel the heart racing excitement of a truffle discovery with one of their highly trained truffle dogs. After hunting down some precious bounty, head back to the estate’s restaurant. Here you’ll taste a whole menu infused with Périgord truffles, whilst looking out over the undulating hillside filled with vines and truffle laden trees. Don’t forget to take home some of their truffle goodies from the shop on your way out.
Be assured of a menu sprinkled with truffle when you choose to lunch at Vasse Felix this winter. Wind your way down the driveway through some of the oldest vines in the region, and settle in to savour a meal from Head Chef Brendan Pratt. Having trained at some of the world’s top restaurants, he brings his fresh vision and creativity to the kitchen at Margaret River’s founding wine estate. Two truffle enriched dishes will be tempting diners this season.
Truffles and pasta are a classic combo, so here you’ll find pappardelle tossed through a pecorino and burnt butter emulsion with cured and confit egg yolk and generous truffle. For true truffle aficionados, you can follow up with a dish from the dessert menu: ‘Jerusalem artichoke, earl grey, green raisin’ consists of a tart with truffle freshly shaved on top.
Of course, you’ll need to choose a perfect match from the wine list. Pratt’s advice? “Truffles are a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon match due to the savoury earth driven style you find here in Margaret River. Truffles are also a great match for our Chardonnays as they tend to lend themselves to similar flavour and texture profiles that we see when we match a dish with our Chardonnay. Ie. butter, garlic, a little sweetness, lightly smoky, very mild acid, miso, earthy vegetable.”
Winning Appliances & Asko Truffle Kerfuffle
A whole weekend of truffle filled goodness? Yes please. Winning Appliances & Asko Truffle Kerfuffle is a three day affair fuelled by these ‘black diamonds’ from Manjimup’s rich soils. The most prolific truffle growing region in the southern hemisphere, this is your chance to fully immerse yourself in the world of truffle. Try your hand at truffle hunting and see how the pros (and their canine assistants) unearth these earthly delights.
Browse the region’s best produce and culinary products at the Festival Village at Fonty’s Pool, where you can also learn what to do with them in your own kitchen thanks to demos from WA’s top chefs. Get up close and personal with your favourite chefs in the Chef’s Cabin series: each exclusive event is capped at 26 diners so tickets are highly sought after.
Of course, there are also numerous opportunities to sit back and indulge in long lunch, a memorable dinner or decadent brunch. This year’s big names include Pete Evans, Poh, Anna Gare, Tony Howell, Aaron Carr, Amy Hamilton, Nic Wood, Paul ‘Yoda’ Iskov, Scott Brannigan and many more.
Maggie’s Place at Augusta
Tucked down in the quaint seaside town of Augusta, Maggie’s Place at Augusta is a treasure trove for foodies. Maggie carefully selects the best local produce and products for the shelves of her cosy store, and she is a full bottle on each and every one. A truffle lover herself, she is quick to extol it’s earthy virtues, “truffle anything is special!”. Take your pick from three products at her store: Truffle Oil, Truffle Mustard and Truffle Salt. “Customers, especially visitors, love these products because they are different and exotic and they are from WA. Light and easy to carry home, they make great gifts as they are so special and unusual.”
Image Credits: Jessica Wyld, Elements Margaret River