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13
Aug
2008

Mundaring Truffle Festival

Manjimup Black Truffle Very Fancy Egg and Truffled Soliders

Truffles… those precious little nuggets of earthy goodness that are fought over by pigs, dogs, and gourmet food lovers. There is nothing quite so revered in the world of haute cuisine as this ruddy little gem, though apparently only 0.05% of the entire population of Australia has ever tried one.

Making some effort at remedying that fact, is the Mundaring Truffle Festival, held in (wait for it) Mundaring (up in the hills of Perth). This was the 3rd year the Mundaring Truffle Festival has been held, and my first visit to the hills in a long while, to partake in the spectacle that only the truffle can create.

The festival was initially the brainchild of Alain Fabregues, French chef extraordinaire and owner of the renowned Loose Box restaurant who is as creative as he is entrepreneurial. He was a part of introducing truffles to Western Australia, and has been a very strong advocate for WA to become as famous for truffles as it has for wine.

Very Fancy Egg and Truffled Soliders * What the box says * On the Slow Food soapbox Shannon Bennett stirring Truffled mushroom consomme and truffle twist Shannon Bennett Trio of Truffled Bruschetta Vincenzo Pauline doing her angry face Truffle Polenta Jamie Lamb spezzatino with Truffle Sauce on Truffle Polenta The Sly Wine Lover * Black Gold A bag of earthy extravagance * Slow Food lunchers wobbly goodness Manjimup Black Truffle escape is imminent a delicious downfall 
My day started with a master class by none other than that orchestrator of all things magical in Melbourne, Mr Shannon Bennett. Head chef of Vue de Monde, and also restaurants in the Sultanate of Oman, and soon Singapore (in case you didn’t know, which I didn’t either). Shannon had been invited over last year to share his love of truffle and its preparations with us lowly mortals, and was back again this year for more of the same.

The whole event was sponsored by lots of umm, sponsors. They plied us with wine at 10:30 in the morning and gave us lovely brochures to look at while we waited for the show to begin.

Shannon strolled out looking like he’d had a hard night. Or perhaps a hard life. Most likely both. I’m not sure what it is about him, but the man does not look healthy. I think he’s developing a serious hunch from bending over too many pans of simmering sauces.

I do however, like his food. His commitment to absolute excellence in everything he does, and his ability to pronounce French words without putting on a ridiculous Franglais accent (Something Toby Puttock would be wise to take note of).

Shannon Bennett shaves truffles

So the dishes he prepared, were a mushroom consomme infused with truffle, fennel, more mushroom, onion, and a few other things. It was infused using the Cona coffee maker vacuum method that he’s fond of in the restaurant. It was served with a truffled pastry twist and a young Riesling.

He then followed it up with perhaps the fanciest egg on toast I will ever consume. A cep (mushroom) puree infused with truffles, laid at the bottom of a carefully cut egg shell. With a ‘confit’ egg yolk on top, that he made by very gently heating a single egg yolk in warm oil for a few minutes til it went gelatinous. To dip, nothing less than truffled soldiers. And not skimping on the truffles either. Thick pieces of bread rolled in egg and copious amounts of truffle and then fried. I may have died a little on the inside after that one. Knowing it will be a few and far between experience.

Afterwards Shannon hang around for a bit to sign his book, and after a quick handshake and a ‘yeh good onya’, I was on my way back to the main arena.

Next on the agenda was the Slow Food ‘Down the road’ lunch. I’m still not sure why it was called ‘Down the road’… as It was way up the road from where I came from. But that was all rather inconsequential in the end. [Edit: Jamie says it was called Down the road because all the produce for the lunch was sourced locally]

The chef for the day was once again Vincenzo Velletri. Master of more rustic Italian dishes that I know exist, and one of Slow Food Perth’s previous ambassadors to Terra Madre. On the menu was a list of simple dishes which have had the added lift that only fresh truffles can give.

We started with a trio of bruschetta with truffled toppings. A truffled pate, truffled mushrooms, and tomato and onion… with truffle (I think).

We then moved on to a wonderful truffle polenta. Dutifully stirred by Slow Food Perth co-leader Jamie Kronborg to a wonderful creamy consistency. Over the top was a lamb spezzatino (stew) with truffle sauce and (wait for it) fresh shavings of truffle.

So much truffle… it was enough to drive a man to drink. As our cunning aged wine loving companion
helped himself to a specially smuggled in treat, we grabbed a bottle of Myattsfield Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my favourite wineries in the Perth Hills district and makers of some fine drops.

* a delicious downfall

To complete the meal, it was that old classic, in all it’s wobbly glory, the vanilla bean pannacotta.
This incarnation was sitting atop a truffled syrup and ordained with a single perfect slice of shaved truffle on top. This was probably my favourite dish of the entire day.

The subtle earthy pungency of the truffle and the sweetness of the pannacotta melding into a wonderful array of flavours right across my palate, which If I close my eyes and tilt my head to the side in an oddly reflective way, I can still taste.

Which until next years season comes around again, is exactly what I may have to.

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15 Responses to “Mundaring Truffle Festival” (1,493 views)

  1. I have been waiting with great anticipation for this post and now I find myself the victim of a cruelly eloquent description of an experience that I was not a part of. The photos, stunning as usual were the final grinding of rock salt into the open wounds left by my inability to attend the truffle festival.

    I think I must, at this point, express my intention NOT to miss it next year!

    Thanks for the fine blogging Matt.

    August 13, 2008 at 4:05 pm Reply
  2. Tracy

    I too am green with envy. I wasn’t able to make it this year. Great photos and words. My mouth is watering…. next year….

    August 13, 2008 at 5:51 pm Reply
  3. Oh my goodness, I am seriously drooling. It was the egg that did it for me.

    August 13, 2008 at 11:00 pm Reply
  4. Eloquent as always, Matt. And you know I’m already desperately jealous of your truffle extravagances. The shots really caught the essence of the day. I could definitely go that vanilla bean pannacotta, and there would be no sharing.

    Jen

    August 14, 2008 at 8:07 am Reply
  5. Sounds like a great time. Might have to organise myself for next year.
    The egg in the photo looks to have white around the edge. Did Shannon remove the tops with his Inox machine & empty out the whole egg before separating it to confit the yolk? A bit like Passard’s egg but more luxe.

    August 14, 2008 at 11:18 am Reply
  6. sounds amazing matt.. I’m getting my fix of truffle this saturday.. a mate of mine has invested in a WA truffle and is going to spoil us..

    August 14, 2008 at 4:16 pm Reply
  7. The food looked great Matt. Is Australia finally starting to develop a truffle culture now that we are starting to grow some ourselves? I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately all talking about truffles.

    I must be in the 99.95% category that hasn’t yet tried a truffle. I’ve had food that have been infused with truffles but not truffles as it is. I want to try that egg and toast combo.

    August 15, 2008 at 2:00 pm Reply
  8. thanks Matt for a great story. Your stories are a pleasure to read and your photography is perfetto.

    August 16, 2008 at 1:49 pm Reply
  9. pei

    matt, totally agree with u re shannon bennett not looking healthy! i’ve always had issues with his long straggly hair. doesn’t that go against occ health and safety laws? i’ve heard journalists describe his look as hip and rocker-ish but to me he just looks like a bum! thank god he can cook!

    August 17, 2008 at 7:56 pm Reply
  10. Zamina

    Matt, since I read this entry a week ago now, I have been a little green with envy and refrained from commenting until I got a grip on myself. Great photos and words, and as always, a pleasure to read. Really what else can say? You got to spend a WHOLE day — no, TWO days with truffles! I’m having Homer-Simpson-drooling-over-donuts moments every time I read this.

    August 20, 2008 at 11:17 am Reply
  11. Sylvia

    Aren’t they just divine, Matt?

    This weekend, I had the pleasure of indulging in the Manjimup Truffle Degustation dinner – 7 courses matched with Watershed wines @ The Watershed.

    August 25, 2008 at 9:50 pm Reply
  12. Wow, that looks delicious and the pics are stunning!

    August 27, 2008 at 12:48 am Reply
  13. Sweet jeezus dude!!! I have drool dangling off my chin. That truffle egg and soldier is teh best thing I have seen in many years – thanks… well, sorta…

    August 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm Reply
  14. Ash

    Well written mate. Truffles; know them I do not.

    But curious I am.

    August 28, 2008 at 11:35 pm Reply
  15. Sorry for the lack of comment love peoples, but it’s been a hectic couple of weeks. T minus two weeks til I head over to Europe and do a little truffle hunting of my own in the markets of Paris and London.

    This was indeed a great day though. More truffle than any one man can handle… but I think i could get used to it. Much love must go to the Slow Food Perth peoples for organising a fantastic and very affordable way to dip your toes into the world of trufflery.

    And to Shannon Bennett for keeping it rockstar… like it should be.

    August 29, 2008 at 11:09 am Reply

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