Hunting for Truffles
Gippsland truffle grower, Noel Fitzpatrick, takes us on a journey through his winter truffle harvest and demystifies the world’s most expensive fungi.
No other ingredient evokes such mystery and allure as the truffle. A subterranean fruiting bodyof fungi that grows on the roots of specific trees, truffles are revered for their intoxicating aromawhich has seduced cooks for thousands of years. The distinctive savoury flavour and aroma oftruffles can be described as earthy and musky with hints of garlic, parmesan and evenchocolate.
Australia grows 3 varieties of truffle, with the most prized being the French black truffle, Tubermelanosporum also known as the black diamond of the kitchen. Winter marks the beginning ofthe notoriously short, black truffle season in Australia, which runs from early to midJunerightthrough to the end of August.
Truffle grower and industry leader, Noel Fitzpatrick has been cultivating French black truffles,along with the lesser known Summer Truffle variety, on his south Gippsland property since2007. During harvest time Noel will walk through his plantation of 500 trees once a week with atruffle dog whose has been trained to sniff out fully matured truffles. Once identified, Noel willget on his hands and knees and start to very slowly and carefully unearth the truffle, which helikens to An archeological dig. Once harvested the truffles are cleaned, graded and deliveredall over Australia using cold storage.
Dedicated to sharing the joys of fresh truffles with a wider audience, Noel says that with as little as 30g you can create a beautiful dish for 4. Some ofhis customers also get together and form truffle co opsto buy larger quantities for specialoccasions: People throw winter truffle parties to celebrate the short season. Groups of friendswill all put in $20 each and come together to have a special dinner party where everyone cooksa different truffle dish.
Due to their intensity, when cooking with truffles less is more, and Noel explains that from just 1truffle you can be rewarded with multiple meals. Truffle aroma attaches itself to high proteinfatty foods, so truffles can be used to infuse eggs, brie, salt and butter. Then youre still left withmost of the truffle to use in a special dish.