Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Secret Foodies Truffle Hunt celebrates season start

If you haven't already seen it all over current restaurant menus and chefs' Instagram feeds yet, it's truffle season in Australia.

The valuable fungus tuber melanosporum is harvested from underground near the roots of oak and hazel trees in the winter seasons, which means the first picks of the season are now out and about.

Perigord truffles in jars at Secret Foodies Truffle Hunt held at Kitchen by Mike,
Dunning Avenue, Rosebery
Australian truffles were showcased at the recent Secret Foodies Truffle Hunt producers event, co-hosted by Pepe Saya and held in Rosebery's Kitchen by Mike.

Unlike Ms. Darlinghurst's usual Secret Foodie events where diners don't know where or what they're dining on until a few hours before the event, the Truffle Hunt was a less covert, cocktail-style event with food stations and their respective producers dotted around the canteen-style restaurant.

A 19 gram truffle
And so Perigord Truffles' Duncan Garvey and crew were on hand, showing off jars filled with their first-pick-of-the-season truffles from Tasmania.

There were plenty of long sniffs from the jar, with the truffles also on sale for $2 per gram. Garvey's tip for storing truffles had to do with taking a few slugs out of a full vodka bottle, inserting the truffle into the bottle and freezing the entire thing. Truffle vodka, anyone?

Yarra Valley salmon caviar with crème fraiche
The night kicked off with a range of organic and biodynamic wines from Mudgee's Lowe Wines, including a delightfully berry-sweet sparkling merlot.

The warehouse/industrial space filled quickly with chatter, wining and devouring of delicacies like Yarra Valley salmon caviar, served simply and prettily atop luscious Pepe Saya crème fraiche.

Prosciutto sliced from the bone
I could have stood beside the leg of prosciutto all night as it was being sliced by hand; the lush, fatty texture just about perfect with the home-made bread and a liberal spread of Pepe Saya's cultured butter for good measure.

The crowds and food on the table
There was also a huge cake of truffle butter; a collaboration between Pepe Saya's butter and Garvey's Perigord truffles which was truly and divinely luxurious spread thick on a piece of bread. Indeed, I think it'd be feasible to even eat the truffle butter by the teaspoon, such is its intoxicating aroma.

Pierre Issa of Pepe Saya butter and John Susman of Fisheads
serving up Kinkawooka mussels
Seafood industry legend John Susman was behind the counter with Pepe Saya's Pierre Issa, dishing out plates of Kinkawooka mussels cooked with Pepe Saya butter, as well as bowls with creamy dollops of polenta with truffle.

Shaving truffles onto polenta
The generosity of the truffle shavings on the polenta didn't go unnoticed which along with grated parmesan cheese, really pepped up the soft, filling polenta.

Truffle polenta and Kinkawooka mussels cooked in Pepe Saya butter
Served with the always soft and sea-sweet Kinkawooka mussels, it was quite the hearty meal. I had to restrain myself from more polenta/mussels/prosciutto/ bread and butter as the Dessertmakers' dessert spreads covering an entire table had tempted since the beginning of the night.

Warm dessert options by Dessertmakers
Huge platters of bread and butter pudding festooned with sultanas and apple crumble garnished with fresh walnuts waited patiently as truffle hunters did the savoury rounds.

Dessertmakers' bread and butter pudding
I was enamoured with the soft, warm bread and butter pudding, made with Pepe Saya butter, of course (Dessertmakers and Pepe Saya share the same Tempe factory).

The subtle sweetness and creaminess, not to mention the carb-loading factor, make this a winner in winter with thick yoghurt or a bit of ice cream.

Truffled rice pudding
On theme was Dessertmakers' truffled rice pudding, a warm and creamy spoonful of soft rice speckled with truffle gratings. The truffle flavour was subtle beneath the sweetness, but definitely present in this ideal winter dessert.

(From left) Ms Darlinghurst from Secret Foodies, Maya from Kinkawooka Mussels, John Susman from Fisheads, Pierre Issa from Pepe Saya, Merna Taouk from Dessertmakers and Duncan Garvey from Perigord Truffles 
Towards the end of the night Ms Darlinghurst got the producers out front for a question-and-answer session, including questions from the audience.

Aside from the producers' intimate knowledge of everything we'd sampled and consumed that night, it was easy to see their passion and dedication for their respective specialties which really does seem to make their produce taste better.

The crowds for Secret Foodies Truffle Hunt at Kitchen by Mike
Going by the satisfied faces in the crowd, it looked like the Secret Foodies Truffle Hunt was a successful hunt, boding well for the Australian season for diners and restaurateurs alike.

Food, booze and shoes attended the Secret Foodies Truffle Hunt as a guest.

Kitchen By Mike on Urbanspoon


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

so. much. truffle.

the truffle polenta looks kick ass!

Ms Darlinghurst said...

Awesome post and great photos (as always). Thanks for coming, glad you had a good time. xxMsD

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Truffles, boots and coats are the only things I look forward to in winter :P

Vivian - vxdollface said...

Wowee! Wish I could've made it to this event, looks like a lot of amazing truffle dishes ^^ I'm goign on my first truffle hunt this coming Saturday, super excited!

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Wow truffled rice pudding sounds incredible!

Tina said...

Hi Tina - Definitely a highlight of the night!

Hi MsD - Thanks so much for the invite. Let's bump into each other on a plane again soon ;)

Hi Lorraine - I also love red wine in winter :D

Hi Vivian - Have fun; can't wait to hear about it!

Hi Helen - I think Merna's been doing it a Pyrmont markets... Not sure if still going.

Martine @ Chompchomp said...

I am obsessed with the truffle season and cannot get enough of all the foodie events over winter. At this rate Im going to need to starve myself sometime before summer as Im going to be enormous!


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