Every year there’s an element of rivalry and pride amongst our truffle growers when they find the first truffles. Someone suggested that finding the first truffle of the season should be as widely publicised as that European symbol of spring, the swallow. Even ‘The Times’ treats swallow sightings seriously (maybe it’s because UK winters are so damned depressing. One of my English mates described the winter light as “like looking up from the bottom of a pond”)
The other suggestion was to promote the occasion in the local and Sydney papers and “auction off the first big one”. There’s a problem however that these first truffles are not as black inside or as strong in aroma as those from later in the season. Like now. The growers don’t start selling them until they reach maturity and grade them according to shape and pungency. If you’re a restaurant shaving slices on top of a dish at the table, you prefer smooth round truffles that slice into attractive circles. Some of them have insect damage, or a scratch or two from an energetic truffle dog, but these knobbly ones are fine if you are just going to use a microplane and grate them, or chop them into a dish like rissotto or a sauce. According to this year’s emails, Sherry McArdle-English at French Black Truffles of Canberra claimed a 444g monster four weeks ago and sent a picture with Snuffle her truffle dog who found it.
The other pictures here are from this week and it was a truffle from Terra Preta, the Marshall family’s truffiere in Braidwood. As you can see it was huge, just under 700g and that makes it worth around $1400 (if when you gently break it apart it’s all usable. It’s a bit hard to see in all those crevices). It smelt fantastic and as the season goes on, they only get better. And then they stop. No more. You go out into the paddock and the dog takes one sniff and wants to get back in the truck.
So we can’t even auction off the last truffle of the season, because it was probably sold yesterday. Get them while you can.
Sherry’s truffles are available from various places at the Fyshwick Markets, Terra Preta has a stall at the Farmers Markets at EPIC on a Saturday morning.