On the 23rd of August 2020, we travelled south to Canberra to visit the famed Truffle Farm where we got to hunt, learn and eat truffle; a subterranean ascomycete fungus. This was an amazing experience shared with our friends: Annie, Theresa and Steve.
It was $200 per person. We booked it in early June and it was sold out by July.
P.S. We went to a party the night before and got home at 4 AM. We were scheduled for the noon session so that meant we had to leave Sydney by 8:30 AM. Let's just say, we were very, very, hungover 😂
Upon arrival, we were seated in this beautiful marquee where the owner, Jayson Mesman, told us his origin story and how he landed one of the best jobs in the world: playing with dogs and hunting truffles. I'm not gonna spill his secrets because this introduction is an important 20 minute section of the paid event 😉.
What I can reveal is how truffles are grown under an oak or hazelnut tree. During the sapling period, fungi spores attaches to the tree roots. It can take 5-10 years for the tree to mature and as it grows so does the fungi-truffle underneath it. During this period, the tree-host and fungi-truffle develops a symbiotic relationship of nutrients exchange. The tree-host gives glucose and the fungi-truffle gives carbohydrates.
As winter approaches, the tree-host holds on to its glucose, forcing the truffle to defend for itself and detach from the roots. This causes the truffle to want to find another tree-host to release new spores to but it can't do that underground so what does it do? It creates its distinct, strong smell so animals, such as pigs and dogs, can sniff it out. This is where truffle hunting comes into play 🌱.
After the introduction, Jayson guided us outside to the paddock and demonstrated truffle hunting with his newest recruit of 7 dogs; an 8 month old cutie named Taz. This boy was hilarious because after he sniffed out and dug up some truffles, he'd immediately stare at Jayson's bag, waiting for his treat. He knew he was a good boy.
Unfortunately, the only downside to a newbie was that Taz was still learning and this meant he would sniff out a truffle but miss the bigger one hiding underneath. This is bad for business because we all know truffles are sold by the gram.
It's alright though, we forgave him because he was so adorable 🐶
This was a very interactive session because we got the opportunity to get our hands dirty and harvest the truffles. Meanwhile, the founded treasures were passed around the group for smells and touches. The truffles had a very pungent aroma. IYKYK. We continued to follow Taz around as he sniffed out more truffles.
Hehehe, we were very proud of our dirt 🍄😆
In our session Taz harvested about 600 grams of truffle. Woot! Not bad for a pup. At the time of writing this post, Australian Black Truffle was going for $32/gram!!! Yikes, so expensive.
The scenery was absolutely stunning! After 45 minutes of soaking in vitamin D, the group were guided back inside to the marquee for the included degustation menu with unlimited red and white wines, cooked by Chef Damian Brabender.
We were also given a demonstration on how truffles are prepared for the market and for every day cooking. All I can say is truffles are a lie and they are only expensive because of the market hype. I'll share the full food review HERE because I don't want to overwhelm this post with so much information.
After our delicious lunch we were given the opportunity to purchase our treasures, foods and merchandises such as aprons, truffle butter and truffle brie.
DO NOT BUY TRUFFLE OIL. This is one of the biggest scams of the century because truffle oil mimics truffle but does not actually contain any truffle content 😳
We ended up purchasing 50 grams of truffle for $150 and truffle butter for $25. I'll write about our cooking experiences with the truffle in the food review HERE.
Everyone started leaving after lunch while we stayed back for another 20 minutes to watch these doggies live their best life.
Jayson told us about the time Bear successfully captured an intruder. Bear is Jayson's 8th dog, a big German Shepherd who only comes out to play at night. Imagine being caught by that.. yikes! The suspect in question was luckily only bruised by Bear, after being "lost" in the middle of the truffle paddocks. Sure you were lost, buddy, at 2 AM in the middle of nowhere with a backpack and shovel 😉
This was such a wholesome day. The hunting was fun and educational, the lunch was absolutely delicious and just satisfied our gluttony, and the dogs were so adorable.
In all honesty, we probably would not do the entire package again. Paying $200 per person is a lot for just an adventurous lunch. If we have truffle cravings, we'd rather go directly to Chef Damian Brabender's restaurant, Otis (Canberra). However, for those who have never been and would like a new fun winter activity, we highly recommend keeping an eye out for 2021 openings.
Thanks for reading, as always 😁