Posts Tagged ‘festival’

14
Aug
2010

The trouble with truffles

Truffle risotto arancini

Is that you can never afford to eat enough of them.

The above photo is what became of some left over truffle risotto made at the Slow Food Perth food piazza stand during the 2010 Mundaring Truffle Festival, and comprise perhaps the most expensive arancini (recipe below) the world has ever seen.

The festival was a big weekend. I personally stirred 24 kg of truffle risotto into existence, and have a right arm the size of Popeye to prove it. I would have loved to be posting lots of other photos of amazing truffle goodness from the festival but spending most of my time in the Slow Food Perth tent I didn’t get to annoy as many people with my camera as I have in previous years. Idle hands and all that, it was probably for the best.

It was an interesting event anyway, with a who’s who of local Perthonality chefs bringing their kitchens up to the festival to wow ever growing crowds of gourmet food fans with their wares.

I enjoyed the variety of foods and some of the amazing things people has created (Emmanuelle Mollois’ truffle macaron for one) and it’s always interesting to see the looks on peoples faces when given the opportunity to try truffles for the first time. “So that’s what it tastes like!” is the common theme.

Personally that’s the best thing about the festival for me. Seeing people who would never have had a chance to try truffles presented them in a way that’s affordable and accessible, so they can make up their own minds as to whether they’re worth $3000 per kg or not.

Slow Food Perth did a fantastic job over the weekend. With a tent to educate kids about food (where apples originated, the history of wheat and how to make fresh pasta), and in the food tent Terra Madre delegates were cooking up a storm. Turning out pizza, mushrooms and porchetta from the wood fired oven and truffle risotto, polenta, and Blackwood Valley beef rolls with truffle butter.

Hopefully next years event can keep hold of the organic community roots that made it such a unique event on the Perth food calendar.

...Riso CarnaroliAdam on polentaArm workMushroom girlSlow Food PerthSlow Food Perth stallHermanoWarren of Blackwood Valley BeefPorchettaSecret lives of critics talkTruffle risotto arancini

Truffle Arancini (or regular arancini)

First I should say that you should never make a risotto solely to turn it into arancini, unless you’re a caterer or a sadist (arguably the same thing) it’s just a waste of good risotto. If however, you are already making risotto, just use a little more rice and end up with more than you need, that way you can enjoy your risotto and have a guilt free path to arancini left overs the next day.

So to make truffle risotto arancini above you basically take a whole pile of cold truffle risotto, some small balls of bocconcini or fresh mozzarella, flatten a layer of risotto onto the palm of your hand, place a piece of cheese in the centre, and wrap the risotto around the cheese. Then roll it into a ball, dip it into a beaten egg, and roll it in breadcrumbs.

Shallow fry in olive oil or deep free in vegetable oil til golden brown, then drain onto absorbent paper and leave to rest so you don’t burn your mouth off when you try to eat one.

The result should be a delicious crunchy exterior and a cheesy truffle risotto interior that gently coats your mouth with goodness.

03
Sep
2009

Mundaring Truffle Festival : Slow Food Perth

Slow Food Perth - Truffle LunchSlow Food Perth - Truffle Lunch

Truffles are not just for culinary elitists and food wankers. That was hopefully the message put across by Slow Food Perth’s down the road lunch at this years Mundaring Truffle Festival held a few weeks back. Of course if you call yourself a culinary elitist or frequently get called a food wanker, then you’ll also fit right in.

Being a Slow Food Perth member, and sometime committee meeting attendee, I was very proud to see such a great response to the lunch from people of all walks of life, interested in trying some truffles for themselves in a setting that isn’t necessarily anything to do with haute cuisine.

Slow Food Chef extraordinaire Vincenzo Velletri once again crafted a simple, honest, but delicious meal based around the now famous Manjimup Black Truffles, which the festival celebrates. We started with truffled bacalau (salt cod) balls, then bruschetta with truffled mushrooms and roast capsicum, moving onto an epic truffle (stirred by these very arms) risotto with shavings of fresh truffle over the top.

The main dish for the day was a whole wood oven roasted pig, boned out and stuffed with herbs and more truffle shavings. It was served with oven roasted potatoes, mushrooms, and a roast capsicum salad. A truffle sauce, a sprig of rosemary, and another good shaving of fresh truffle over the top completed things.

Finally poached pears with a berry sauce and truffled cream finish what was a wonderful meal. Though not one I actually could partake in. As a committee member I was up the back, stirring risotto, shaving truffle, taking photos, getting in peoples way, and generally making a nuisance of myself. Whilst this mean I couldn’t sit down and enjoy the meal in the comfort of the marquee, what it did let me do was create the mother of all staff lunches.

truffle pork sandwich poached pears

A thick piece of fresh bread, layered with roast pork, crackling, truffled gravy, and shaved black truffle over the top. Not too shabby a snack by any stretch of the imagination, and perhaps one of my favourite truffle experiences to date.

It was a great day, and thanks to the many volunteers it came together nicely. Overall I was very impressed with the whole festival, which to me did a lot to further the appreciation of truffles and the burgeoning industry in WA around them, to the general community. There were many options over the course of the weekend for people to smell, touch, and taste truffles in a way that didn’t cost them the earth. Be it a truffle risotto or a pizza with truffle shavings.

It’s definitely the kind of event I enjoy going to, In a beautiful setting up in the hills with locals and travelers all enjoying something new and different.

Make sure you book your tickets for next years lunch, and make time to check out the festival yourself. Also do check out Aun’s fantastic blog over at Chubby Hubby. He’s based in Singapore and made it down to the truffle festival recently too. His photos and words are a wonderful summation of the event.

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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.

What the box says * Very Fancy Egg and Truffled Soliders * On the Slow Food soapbox Shannon Bennett stirring Truffled mushroom consomme and truffle twist Shannon Bennett Trio of Truffled Bruschetta Vincenzo Truffle Polenta Pauline doing her angry face Jamie Lamb spezzatino with Truffle Sauce on Truffle Polenta The Sly Wine Lover Black Gold Slow Food lunchers * A bag of earthy extravagance * 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.

05
Jun
2006

Perth Food & Wine Festival

I love food and wine festivals. I love food and wine full stop (.) But even more so when all the nicest elements of both are organised into little booths with tooth picks and tasting glasses provided to sample and sip as I see fit.

This year the food and wine festival was held at the Perth Convention Centre (or Hayshed, as it is not particularly affectionately known). The setup was as per normal. Rows and rows of wine, olive oil, gourmet food, beer, magazines, people chopping things, and other random food based and food related products.

After talking to Ben beforehand and finding out that the Synesso Cyncra was going to be set up at the 5 Senses booth, that was our first point of call. The machine is sweet, a work of art in an industrial stainless steel finish, and a testament to engineers actually listening to what people want.

Synesso Cyncra

I was lucky enough to get to have a play on it, and despite over tamping, the shot came out pretty nice. The Synesso has paddles instead of switches, and when you push the paddle a little way across it starts preinfusion. This means that boiler water at line pressure is used to fill the basket. Once the puck is soaked with water and the first drip of coffee comes out, you push the paddle all the way across to full pressure, and watch perfectly balanced espresso flow out. For a novice like me to be able to pull shots like this, was unreal.

My Tamp
Synesso Cyncra
Naked pour on Cyncra
Dippin the tip in.
My pour
I made a rosetta !

Dragging myself away from the coffee machine, we wanted to get some food and then start tackling the different wineries that had their wares on display. Do you know how hard it was to actually get something substantial to eat at a food and wine fair ? Apart from small pieces of bread, cheese, and the odd cracker, actual food was few and far between. Fortunately an Indian place was serving some tasty curries, so we grabbed some of that, got our tasting glasses filled at the nearest wine stall, and lined our stomachs with vital solids.

The next 3 or 4 hours were pretty solid sampling.

We worked our way from one end of the convention centre to the other trying wines from as many places as we could. Stand out would have to be 3 Drops for their Semillon Sauvignon, and also their olive oil (even though we got told off for double dipping), Salitage‘s Pinot Noir, Charles Melton Nine Popes (always a classic), Bowen’s Cabernet Sauvignon, West Cape Howe Shiraz and West Cape Howe Viognier, and the only other I can remember at this stage was the Capel Vale Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. The Capel Vale was really nice actually and we ended up ordering a mixed case of Viognier, Shiraz Viognier, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese… I’m a sucker for a foreign name.

Other highlights for the day were running into Phou, a chef who works at the convention centre, and moonlights at the Pacific International Hotel. He’s originally from Melbourne and has worked all over Australia, and had lots of good things to say about working in the industry, and whether or not its worth it (which it is, as long as you’re willing to put in a lot of work).

We also managed to talk oysters with Jerry Fraser (oyster king of Perth), who gave us a few good tips on where to best ones come from, and how to take them (natural of course, with a little fresh native lime juice).
Jerry Fraser - Oyster King
Oysters - Freshly Shucked

I also picked up my own copy of Spice Magazine from their booth, and had a bit of a chat there.

Spice Mag !

Benny talks to Spice Mag

Then it was back to the 5 Senses booth for a farewall play on the Synesso (and to inadvertently run into the Pseudo Chef herself), before trudging out of the convention centre and merrily heading back home.

All in all a great day filled with lots of tasty morsels and friendly chats with the ever loving food and wine community of Perth (and the greater West Australian region). It’s on for the next coupld of days, so i may just have to go back for more :) I’d encourage anyone else to do the same.