Winter Truffle Hunting in Tasmania, Australia
Asparagus Sous-vide in Truffle Butter with Cured Egg Yolk was the second of four mouth watering courses on a truffle hunt and harvest tour.
The first course was in the field, before our truffle hunt started. Field and forest mushroom soup with Truffle oil. Fresh made sour dough bread accompanied our soup. The day was off to a good start.
The truffle farm is set in an amazing landscape, with Mount Roland visible in the background. It is a lovely picture postcard view.
The truffles are found in the ground under oak and hazelnut trees. Black Truffle hunting in Tasmania is best done in winter - June, July and August. They grow best in rich soil in a cold climate. Frosts add to the intensity of the flavour.
Truffle harvesting is a relative newcomer in Australia, where the first Australian trufle farms started in Tasmania in 1999.
Our harvester (Adam) was a wealth of information. We learnt how they train the dogs and the process of how the dog (Trigger) finds the truffles, which can be up to 30cm deep in the ground. Trigger smells the aromatics, the earthy truffle smell, and points out the spot to Adam. This is perfect teamwork.
Digging with special tools to prevent damaging the fruit, Adam finds the truffles exactly where Trigger indicated.
On our hunt, Adam was a wealth of information on how truffles come to be and the history of them. They are the edible fruiting body of subteranean fungi, Tuber melanosporum. You never know how big the truffle is going to be when dug up. Once it is found, it cannot be replanted to get bigger. The best sized truffles resembe a golf ball. They are best served fresh, within three days of harvesting, and can stay fresh for up to ten days.
Each truffle has to be inspected for any bugs or faults. This is a time consuming task and it soon becomes apparent why they are so elusive and expensive. Truffle hunting is not a task that can be done by machinery. It is a very hands on and labour intensive process.
Once our hunt was concluded, it was back to the restaurant with its welcoming fire. This was very pleasant after our cold outdoors winter forage.
The aromatic smells of our lunch from the kitchen were teasing our tastebuds.
The first and second course are mentioned previously. The third course was just as delicious as the previous two. Farmhouse Rainbow Chard Ravioli with Hazelnut and Sage Brown Butter Sauce and Fresh Truffle.
The dessert was listed as a Forest Floor in Winter. Other diners told me it was delectable. The presentation was gorgeous.
As I cannot digest sugar and had advised them before attending of my food intolerance, the staff made a sugar free desert just for me. Cheese with truffle, homemade sourdough and dehydrated vegetables from their garden. Oh my, it was absolute perfection!
This was the first time I had ever been on a truffle hunt and harvest. The hands on learning experience gave me an appreciation for the manual process and how hard it is to actually find them. Interacting with Adam and Trigger was a highlight of the day, seeing the two working together as mates as they hunted was heart warming.
The food was beautifully presented and divinely delicious. I had never really tasted truffles before this day, except in truffle oil when cooking. It will be something I delight in experiencing again. Next time I eat truffle, this day and the hunt will be remembered. It is an activity I would recommend to anyone.
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