In Food + Drink

A Comprehensive Guide To Canberra In Truffle Season

Every time winter arrives, it brings along with it rain, cold weather, and gusty winds. But also with it comes the start of one of the most indulgent times on the food calendar: truffle season.

Between June to August is when black winter Périgord truffles – touted as the most expensive ingredient in the world – hit peak season and achieve their strongest flavour and aroma, making them ready for harvesting at the half a dozen truffle farms located in Canberra and its surrounding area.

The richness of the soils and the cool climate makes the nation’s capital an ideal location to grow these rare truffles that are best known for their earthy, pungent, and mushroom-like characteristics when ripe.

Given the season only comes around once a year, Canberra and its surrounding area completely embrace it. The cool climate hot spot offers a range of ways to celebrate this precious ingredient from truffle hunts to eateries hosting special tasting events and cooking classes.

Hunt for “black diamonds”

truffle season

Image: VisitCanberra

While pigs were traditionally used for their excellent truffle-snuffling abilities, Canberrean farmers have specially trained truffle hunting dogs – from Jack Russells to Border Collies, Kelpies, and Labradors – to sniff out the earthy fragrance of these gourmet fungi.

During truffle season, follow and watch hunting dogs like Samson, over at The Truffle Farm, Dusty and Joker from Tarago Truffles, or Fahren at Macenmist dig around the roots of oak and hazelnut trees with excitement, as they uncover from the ground ripened truffles.

Watching the dogs is one of the best ways to discover the allure of black truffle. On the hunt, you’ll get to see how truffles grow and get an understanding of what one looks and feels like when it’s ready for harvesting.

Discover the meaning of paddock to plate

truffle season

Image: VisitCanberra

It’s easy to be tempted to purchase truffles following your hunt, but there won’t be any point if you don’t know how to cook them.

Sign yourself up to a hands-on masterclass with Canberra’s local cooking school, Foodish, that will use fresh produce from Blue Frog Truffles to teach you how to incorporate truffle into three courses. Better yet, there will be a chance to enjoy cooked meals with paired wines.

Over at the Turalla Truffle, a similar class is being hosted by local chef Andrew Haskins who will teach you how to infuse, marinate, nurture, and marry the fungus with certain proteins.

For something a little hands-off but just as educational, The Truffle Farm’s executive chef Damian Brabender will prepare a degustation of truffle dishes in front of you while teaching you all the secrets of how to use the delicacy at home.

Eat and drink until your heart’s content

truffle season

Image: VisitCanberra

Alternatively, there’s the option to leave the cooking up to the experts. Various restaurants around town are hosting special events to showcase the territory’s finest ingredient.

Indulge in a five-course truffle and wine dinner at Poachers Pantry that will be dishing out dishes in celebration of the season. There’s also a truffle degustation at the National Press Club of Australia, serving dishes such as truffled pork belly with beetroot textures and Californian cherries, and a smashed truffle and apple pie with truffle anglaise, truffle and brie ice-cream, and freeze-dried pear. Each course will be paired with local wine.

At Mount Majura Vineyards, sample truffle brie with paired wines as part of the Majura Valley Experience while overlooking the vineyard.

And while truffles are commonly consumed as part of an ingredient in a meal, the team over at Bentspoke Brewery will be brewing their experimental truffle beer through their famous hopinator. It’ll be a dark malty strong ale infused with truffles and a few other ingredients including cumquats, mandarins, star anise, cinnamon and vanilla beans. It’ll be available on tap at their Braddon brewhouse.

Stay a little while 

Aside from being able to hunt for truffles on-site, Turalla Truffles also offers accommodation at its newly renovated farm-style cottage. With accommodation for up to six people, the cottage also features a wood fire burner to keep cosy during the cooler evenings and comes with a thoughtful care package of fresh truffles that can be used for meals cooked up during the stay.

But if you’re looking to be in the centre of all the action, it’s hard to go pass the quirky and fun QT Canberra that’s also rumoured to be a frequent stomping ground for politicians. It’s convenient as it means you can pop down for a meal at Capitol Bar and Grill that will be warming up truffle-inspired Italian favourites such as mushroom risotto and macaroni with cheese and truffle as a nod to the classic mac ‘n’ cheese.

(Lead image: VisitCanberra)

Published 05 July, 2019