What would you create with a Canberra region truffle that you dig up? That was the question I had to answer in order to win the ultimate truffle experience – a truffle hunt followed by a truffle cooking class with Andrew from Three Seeds. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t ever eaten, held or seen a truffle in ‘the flesh’. You might be having a little chuckle at my truffle ignorance right about now. But did you know that truffle oil isn’t actually made from truffles? I didn’t. Clearly I had so much to learn about truffles. Perhaps you do too?
Lucky for me and my much needed truffle learning journey, I won the truffle hunt and cooking experience. As I finished my little happy dance, I remembered that my mum (who I desperately wanted to take on this wonderful experience with me) wouldn’t be able to come, as she was needed back in Sydney. Hmm. What to do? I quickly sent a message to Sophia, another 101human (who also writes a great blog called Xpatriate Games) to see if she would come with me and she was very happy to be my truffle hunting buddy!
The morning began with our truffle hunt. Jayson from Truffle Dogs (find him on Facebook here) took some time before our hunt to explain how the dogs not only learn how to find the truffles, but also to distinguish between a truffle that isn’t ready yet and one that is ready. We also learnt that it is important for the dogs to be off leash when truffle hunting, otherwise if you pull back on the leash (either because you can’t keep up or some other reason) you could inadvertently tell the dog that you aren’t interested in that truffle, or you don’t want the dog to go in that direction – thereby losing the opportunity to find that truffle. It was clear that Jayson knew what he was talking about as soon as the hunt began. Jayson’s gorgeous dog, Samson, quickly led us through the English Oak and Hazelnut trees and within moments had found the first truffle of the morning.
As Jayson checked the tree, he explained how truffles grow and how you need to be careful that you only separate the truffle from the tree if it’s ready to be picked. Truffles stop growing as soon as they are detached from the tree’s root. Samson stood by, almost as if he was checking that Jayson was looking in the right spot.
After our truffle hunt we escaped to the warmth of the kitchen where Andrew had already begun the preparation for the day’s cooking lesson. As if he could read our minds, wine appeared in our glasses and we all sat down to listen to how we could incorporate truffles into our cooking, without breaking the budget! I was skeptical at first, but he knew what he was talking about. I won’t tell all his secrets and if you are cursing me at this moment, book into one of his classes. I wouldn’t do him justice to try and recite his tips. Not only is Andrew an excellent teacher, he is a brilliant chef who has owned many popular restaurants throughout Canberra. We all had a wonderful time as he chatted about everything truffles, all without missing a beat with his cooking. Andrew also expertly managed to answer all of our questions (and patiently waited while I took copious notes and photos). Below are some of the delights he created for us.
Canberra is currently in full-fledged truffle festival mode. You can find most of the information you need, from which restaurants are participating to other activities associated with this delicious event, on the event’s Facebook page.
If you would like to have your own ultimate truffle experience (I highly recommend it and will be taking my husband and mum on it next year) you can book online through Three Seeds cooking school or through French Black Truffles of Canberra. Three Seeds also offer a range of other cooking classes and experiences – if you are near the area and love food, definitely check out their website! If you’d like to follow the truffle hunting adventures of Jayson’s dogs, why don’t you follow his Instagram account?
Until next time, I hope you have the opportunity to indulge in some delicious truffles!