Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Winter 2010 Contents 200 scoop WINTER 2010
There s a hillock on the outskirts
of Manjimup where the wild
radish grows safe from the whipper
snipper s blade. Below it lies 20
hectares of rich karri loam planted
with hazelnuts and a few oaks, all of them dwarfed
by the stands of karri and marri that are gathered
darkly on the horizon.
It was here, at The Wine & Truffle Company s
landmark trufferie in the cool, green South-West,
that Western Australia s first black European truffle
was unearthed on 28 July 2003. Two years on Alain
Fabrègues, owner-chef of restaurant The Loose Box
in Mundaring, approached me with an idea.
He wanted to recreate the village-like atmosphere
of a traditional French truffle celebration, and he
believed Mundaring was the right place to do it. It
had the right country village vibe, it wasn t too far
from Perth, plus his kitchen and staff were nearby
should we need back-up support.
Given I d spent the previous two years pitching
West Australian truffle-themed stories to Eastern
States editors who still thought we ate our own
young, the idea of establishing something that
the rest of Australia, and perhaps even the world,
would look up to, held strong appeal. We might
not have the biggest banana or the biggest prawn
but, by gad, we d have the biggest and best truffle
festival in the known universe!
Frankly, back then I didn t know one hell of a
lot about truffles. My only experience of eating
them was at a lunch with famed TV chef and
fungi expert Antonio Carluccio at Neal Street, his
austere dining room in London s Covent Garden.
The highlight of that meal was freshly made
tagliolini tossed with butter and topped with a
generous shaving of fresh black truffle. The aroma
of the truffle -- fresh mushroom meets rich, dark
earth with a subtle hint of musk
and an underlying pungency --
was a revelation.
The West Australian truffle
season runs throughout winter,
from May to August.
With the logistical and
financial support of the Shire of
Mundaring, we held the first
Truffle Festival in Mundaring in
the winter of 2007.
Around 3000 people turned
up and most of them queued
for Alain s $5 parmesan custard
Winter means truffles
and for food writer
Jane Cornes, truffles
means the Mundaring
TRUFFLES ARE THE fruiting body of a family of underground fungus (mushroom) living in a non-invasive,
give-and-take relationship (symbiotic is the official term) with certain trees. Indeed, these fungi are
positively beneficial to the plants' growth because their mycorrhiza, fine fungal filaments, act as
microscopic extensions of the tree's root system, assisting in the absorption of hard-to-get-at nutrients.
Truffles have been around for some time. The Egyptians ate them coated in goose fat while the
ancient Greeks and Romans reckoned they had therapeutic and aphrodisiac qualities. Sadly, the
traditional truffle grounds of France have suffered through deforestatio
use of pesticides. In Perigord -- the country's most famous truffle-growin
region -- 1800 tons of truffles were harvested in 1914. Today, fewer than
tonnes are harvested each year in the whole of France.
Enter Western Australia, where the truffle season runs from May to
August, and where we're currently growing more truffles than the rest
of Australia put together. I'll say that again in case you missed it: we're
currently growing more truffles than the rest of Australia put together.
n and the
FUN GUY: Damon Boorman,
operations manager at the Wine &
Tru e Co., shows o some tru es.
INSET: Food writer Jane Cornes.
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