AU ABROAD

Eating with the AU: Truffle Melbourne Metro Festival - Prahran Market (South Yarra)

Australia is now the fourth largest producer of black truffles after France, Spain and Italy, so it is only fitting that this weekend just gone saw Prahran Market playing host to a haven for truffle lovers. Truffle Melbourne, one of Australia’s most prestigious food festivals, descended upon the distinct foodie precinct to coincide with the black truffle harvest. The Market Square came alive in celebration of this magical winter delight; with local merchants pulling together some of Victoria’s best artisanal truffle infused produce for all to taste. If you thought that truffles were merely balls of delectable chocolate, then you’ve got a thing or two to learn about the wonderful world of fungi.

Thankfully for us, Festival Director Nigel Wood gave us the low-down on truffle seasons, discussing the link between paddock and plate. With a focus on local provenance, Truffle Melbourne certainly places a spotlight on the high quality produce coming from the local region, combining it with culinary experiences to entice the senses.

Well-versed celebrity chef Guy Grossi was on hand with a specialty cooking demonstration featuring some exquisite tasters. We were treated to some gorgeous appetisers, including chicken terrine on crostini with shaved truffle; white polenta with bone marrow, truffle oil and grated truffle; creamy risotto with truffle; Western Australian marron cooked in truffle butter with grated truffle; truffle-infused cannellini bean soup; truffle chocolate ganache balls; and to top it all off – a wonderfully sweet truffle crème brûlée. Featuring robust, earthy aromas and equally rich flavours bridging the gap between savoury and sweet, each one of these intensely flavoured tasters embodied the intriguing complexity of the classic black truffle – particularly when paired with superb wines from Levantine Hill Estate in the Yarra Valley.

Other talented chefs to take centre stage included Karen Martini and Florent Gerardin (amongst many others), who divulged the secrets of cooking at home with the elusive fungi. Meanwhile, a variety of truffle related activities kept visitors busy, particularly the opportunity to experience the thrill of participating in the world’s tastiest game of hide and seek – a mock truffle hunt – which enthused both foodies and truffle die-hards alike. Truffle hunter Sue Brimacombe’s truffle hounds, Spice and Arrow, quickly became the stars of the show as they used their expert noses to find traces of truffles in the most unlikely spots throughout the Market Square.

Incorporating everything from the thrill of the hunt to the celebration of sharing exquisite truffle tastes, Truffle Melbourne’s opening weekend at the Prahran Market certainly captured the exotic and unique mystique that shrouds these culinary delights. We look forward to the next Truffle Melbourne event on 11th & 12th July 2015 at The Centre, Ivanhoe, where Australia’s best truffle chefs and finest artisan food and beverage producers will continue to showcase the joys of the black truffle during this winter season.

For the full list of Truffle Melbourne events, please visit http://trufflemelbourne.com/

For more information on Prahran Market head to http://www.prahranmarket.com.au/

Photos by Serena Ho for the AU Review