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Visit French Affair at the Bastille Festival, Circular Quay Sydney on Saturday July 14th from 10am to 10pm and Sunday July 15th from 10am to 5pm.

The Black Magic of Truffles

Known since the ancient times, black truffles started to gain popularity at French king tables before hitting the Parisian markets in the 1780s; Brillat-Savarin, one of France‘s most famous gastronome, significantly contributed to their wide fame.

The ‘black diamond” is also called Perigord truffle, although only about 10% of France truffle production comes from Perigord nowadays. To the specialists, it is often referred as the ‘Melano’ from Tuber Melanosporum, its scientific name, to avoid any confusion with other, much less flavoursome black truffles species such as summer truffles or also the Chinese truffle now forbidden to import into Australia.

Black truffles grow underground and are most commonly found under certain species of oak trees, though a few other trees, like hazelnut, can do the job. Once only found in the wild, truffles are now "cultivated", but it's not so simple: growers need to source good young trees of which the root have been successfully inoculated with truffle spores, find a suitable land and climate and be able to control on a continuous basis the soil pH, water drainage, undergrowth, pests, pruning, etc., to beat the odds and have the chance of a first harvest five to sseven years later. Providing of course, they have a staff of expensive trained dogs to walk tens of km in acres of "truffieres".

Not surprising then to end up paying $150 for a golf ball-size truffle .. but what a privilege! 5 to 10g per person will suffice to delight your guests and recipes with truffles are often simple as they focus on truffle's natural pungent and captivating flavour rather than complicated sauces or cooking techniques.

Beyond France, Spain and Italy, black truffles are now extensively grown in Australia, mostly in Western Australia and Tasmania but also in Victoria and New South Wales. As to the three3 people who recently planted truffles in Queensland, let’s talk about it in five years’ time.

Black truffle seasons are Dec-Mar for European truffles and Jun-Aug for Australian truffles; opposite seasons mean more pleasure more often for truffle lovers!

In an interview on ABC Radio, celebrity chef, Matt Moran listed the world’s top four delicacies as Truffles, Caviar, Foie Gras and Jamón.

So, why not try with one of those two simple recipes:

Truffle Omelette

• 10-15 grams truffle per person
• 2 eggs per person
• Salt, pepper

2-3 days before cooking, place the whole truffles in an airtight container with the eggs.

3 hours before cooking, break the eggs and mix with half of the truffles thinly sliced, Add salt and pepper and refrigerate.

Beat vigorously before cooking. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick frying pan. When quite hot, gradually pour the mixture into the pan. Stir occasionally, and when the omelette starts to become firm, shave the rest of the truffles on top and slide the omelette onto a serving dish, folding it in half or not. Serve immediately.

Truffle Tartlets:
Based on a recipe by Serge Dansereau

Cut round puff pastry base with a glass and cook them empty in the oven in a tartlet or muffin mould.

Top the cooked and still hot tartlets with some hot caramelised onions adjusted with a little sour cream or crème fraiche, and cover with about 3g of truffle slivers.

A nice vintaged champagne or white burgundy will provide the perfect match!

To discover more recipes or to continue your truffle adventure, meet Philippe, our own “Truffle Man” based in Brisbane, who supplies truffles and many other delicacies to restaurant chefs and home cooks across Australia. Visit The Truffle Man