Take an old truffler’s advice: “Let the perfume come to you.”
It’s the start of the truffle season in Australia and I’ve been lucky enough to receive some of the first of the harvest. Packaged with the glass jar of fresh black Perigord truffles is a note on how to care for them.
Fresh truffles are alive, respiring and in need of fresh air to breathe Every second day, change the tissue paper and air the truffles for a few minutes. Refrigerate truffles in the sealed glass container. Freshly harvested truffles will be at their best for 6-8 days. Enjoy the jewel of French cuisine harvested from the cold soils of South Eastern Australia.
I’ll make a bet. These treasures are not going to last that long. I’ve stored some of my truffles in a glass jar with eggs and some in a refrigerated container with rice. The aromatic beauties will infuse those ingredients so that my truffles gain another life long after they themselves have been eaten. Any trip to the ‘fridge has also required the sampling of a thin slice (just for research purposes you understand.) While my delivery of gorgeous truffles was at its freshest and best, it was also time to share the love.
Joining a group of friends at my home for dinner on the weekend, was friend and artisan butter maker Pierre Issas (Pepe Saya.) While our group enjoyed lashings of fresh local black Perigord truffles over everything from heirloom carrots to a slow beef braise, we heard all about his truffle hunting adventures from earlier that day.
“10 years ago Anne & Denzil Sturgiss decided to become truffle harvesters, so with the help of Duncan Garvey (Perigord Truffles of Tasmania), seedlings of hazelnut and English & French oak trees were planted. Before planting the seedlings they were inoculated with truffle spores.” Pierre Issas related.
“Anne & Denzil found their first truffle in 2006. I bet that was exciting! The first proper harvest started a year later in 2007.
Anne & Denzil also run 400 Merino for fine wool, 30 cross bred with White Suffolk lamb for eating and 15 Murray Grey cattle with an Angus bull over them. Anne also grows broccoli and garlic, with parsnip running mad in her garden.
The sole purpose of my visit was to pick up the truffles to make the season’s first batch of truffle butter on my way back to Sydney from Canberra and since I was already there, I thought it best I have a good look around and learn a couple more things about this beautiful French truffle.
Dalene is with the dog, Lily (rescued at 10 months old from a pound in Tamworth by Dalene). Lily the truffle dog is two years old now and really has developed the nose for finding the truffle.
Lily leads the way and once she picks up the scent of a truffle, she will stop and dig slightly, then Dalene will grab the soil and smell it, if the soil is strong in truffle scent Dalene will dig the truffle out, if the scent is slight, she will leave the truffle for another day.”
I’ve been truffling last year and his stories bring back all of that sensual aromatic experience. Time to get myself an invite for the first day of production of our first Australian truffle butter – fresh black truffles with local single origin cultured butter. Does life get any better than this?
Pierre Issas guides me through the process at his artisan kitchen in Tempe. To 50kg of his salted cultured hand made Pepe Saya butter, he’ll be adding 5% fresh black truffles, 1% Olsson’s Pacific salt and 1% Murray River salt. I quizz him; that’s a lot of truffles. Pepe (that’s what I call him) explains that Duncan Garvey wants to be generous, to make sure people get to taste the truffle. I’m thinking how lucky I am to have my generous bounty at home. And I get to eat them both ways: fresh and in the butter. In fact here’s my butter lollypop – the lucky first taste of the first batch.
Or for more information contact:
Perigord Truffles of Tasmania
61 4 341 906
Pepe Saya Butter
61 2 9519 2793