The 2014 season is looking great! Recent pruning work in the truffiére has found a significant number of newly producing trees. Some have had long existing brulé yet no truffles until now. These have already revealed themselves, although current focus is on pruning, yet to come is the tending of the ground around the trees which typically discloses many truffles to an experienced eye.
Bear introducing Lani to the truffiére (and hazelnuts)
Assisting this effort has been the delightful company of our truffle dog trainee, Lani. She is an Italian dog breed, Lagotto Romagnolo, which roughly translates as a “Lake dog from the Romagna region”, where they were traditionally used as water retrievers, and more recently as truffle dogs.
She is a highly energetic dog, on the go (hunting) all day long and not dissuaded in the least by wet weather. Hopefully we can redirect this drive into finding truffles, with the willingness to work in wet weather definitely being beneficial to our July/August harvest season.
Current training sees her already walking without a lead out front by several metres, returning to heel at command. This will be quite useful in avoiding lead entanglements in trees. Next will be some scent location on command exercises.
The hunt in conjunction with Chateau Yering was conducted with two separate groups. We were fortunate the rain held off until after the last bus left.
700g Victorian Truffle
Both groups found a nice truffle, but the random nature of truffle harvesting was amply demonstrated by the day’s/year’s best truffle being unearthed after the final bus left! If only we’d gone to that tree first! http://youtu.be/Z8O5qpriioU
After covering the basics on truffiere establishment, truffle life cycle, and a few questions, each group got to experience first hand the aroma arising from the soil around a ripe truffle.
Found this beauty under an oak tree, the perfume in the soil was superb and from the top I thought I’d found a truffle of around 200grams. However it kept emerging from the soil like an iceberg, most of it was still well under ground, it weighed in at a massive 554grams!
This truffle found a home with Grossi Florentino in Melbourne.
After a superb Fringe Food Festival dinner at Chateau Yering’s Eleonore’s Restaurant last night I felt inspired to attempt something extravagant. I was quite pleased with the results, a chicken breast cooked with truffle slices under the skin, after the Poulet demi Deuil style, a Creamy Perigord Truffle Sauce, and some cous cous to mop up the sauce. The recipe said the sauce serves four, and it went onto three plates, I also suspect it would have looked more balanced on up to ten plates. Continue reading
Two nights of heavy frost last weekend helped finish some nice truffle this week. ~1100 grams worth finally reached maturity, two large truffles with wonderful aroma and impressive weights of 259 & 310grams.
A nice way to incorporate truffle aroma into food is to infuse it well before cooking. A littleÂ experiment with quail eggs added a nice dimension to traditional truffled egg. Parmesan cheese also absorbs the aroma wonderfully.
I’ve noticed that the focus of these blogs to date has been on the issues affecting the production of good truffles, bugs, damage etc. A summation of some of the good ones, and successful soil covered rescues seems in order.Â So on today’s hunt I took the camera along, and since it has been raining already (a little extra water wont hurt), a squirt bottle to clean the tops of a few of the known ones for some photos.
Truffles do not always ripen evenly, this photo has sections cut from a preseason truffle which usefully demonstrates typical colours from left to right, for tissue that is;Â Under-ripe / Ripe / Over-ripe. Note the visible moisture, and dissappearance of veining on the over-ripe slices. (photographic grey card at left).
Sunday 3rd June.Â First truffle with a nice medium aroma this season. A questionable surface truffle reveals a nice, properly ripe interior.
I’ve had a few enticing smells on located surface truffles since mid March 2012, which all later resulted a spoiled truffle that never quite got there. Now, at start of May, I’ve some more positive signs, confirming a suspicion I had last year regarding ripening before the proper season has arrived. Continue reading