The Inspired Chef – My journey with truffles. My journey with food.

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The inspired Chef

I am so terribly excited. I am so terribly inspired. Which is why I was awake at 4am eager to get typing!

 How to feel alive again

There is nothing like a little trip away to reset the buttons and make you feel alive again.  It doesn’t have to be a trip away on a big fancy plane, I get the same buzz taking a little day trip to the beach, a trek through a mountain pass, a hike to a waterfall. A meditation through adventure if you will.

I think that from time to time we all need to get away from the day to day stresses of work and all the other demands we face, and that’s exactly what happened for me this weekend.

Family First

My trip to Canberra was for family business, which was was emotional and very sad, but very cherished moments were had.  When people blurt out live each day to it’s fullest,  listen.  Life is very fragile and very short and you really should get busy doing what you have always wanted to do.  There will never be a better moment than right now.  Today.  Don’t put it off, just get up and get started. But it was a well timed trip with the Canberra Truffle Festival in full swing!

 An excited Foodie

So I was terribly excited and truly inspired.  For a easily excitable foodie to be surrounded by hills and fields and farms full of truffles was a very exciting experience.  When interviewing a few of the local foodies at the Canberra Food Festival I was very surpised to hear that the locals don’t always go digging for black diamonds, I suppose they are just spoilt.  I was clever enough to book myself in for a much-deserved truffle hunt with the very highly trained and absolutely adorable truffle dog Willow last year when I visited.  This time I missed out.  Dismally.  By the time the flights were booked the truffle hunt and degustation had sold out.  Not to be despondant I took it upon myself to still find my stash of truffles for Vanilla Zulu, and resort to good old fashioned online shopping.

  Australian Truffles

Which brings me to my point…so can you!

First, a little bit about the truffle industry in Australia.  I was so excited to hear on my truffle farm tour that Australia is now regarded as one of the world’s best truffle producers.  Truffles need hot summers and cold winter temperatures which means we have areas perfect for truffle farming.  Some of the first truffle plantations were developed in the early 1990’s by stategically planting oak and hazelnut trees inoculated with the desirable French Black Truffle also known as the Perigord or Winter Truffle.  Canberra is perfectly suited, and I plan to follow the Australian Truffle Trail and discover and educate myself, a truffle culinary adventure if you will!

So what’s all the fuss about?

 Why truffles are fabulous

The fact that truffles need perfect conditions, are hidden like black diamonds in the soil, and that they have an aroma that can set them apart from the rest means that they are special.  You can’t have them all year round so it makes you appreciate them so much more.  Also, they have a very short shelf life unless preserved, and fresh is always best so it makes them even more desirable.  Yes, truffles are special, like little romantic foodie treasures.  I will never forget the excitement of unearthing my very own truffle, I felt like a hunter gatherer and very clever indeed…

How to preserve your black diamonds

My favourite way of preserving truffles is with my signature whipped truffle butter which is ALWAYS handy at both my cooking school and at home.  I use my favourite salted butter, grate it to get it soft, and then beat it in my Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment until it goes light, white and fluffy.  It does take a while, at first the butter will form a thick boring yellow paste and with time and patience, Voila! Light fluffly white butter will emerge and literally change your life.  Once whipped, you can add a multitude of sexy ingredients, in this case it was freshly grated truffle, but I sometimes make ‘stinky’ whipped butter by adding chopped garlic, anchovy and olive.  Or lime leaf/zest, chilli and turmeric for an Asian style butter.  The possibilities are endless.  I then put onto greaseproof paper, shape into a long cylinder, tie up the ends and then freeze until I need it.   Cut off discs with a hot knife and pop the rest back in the fridge or freezer for next time.  

How to use truffles

Other than my fabulous whipped truffle butter you could also use truffles or truffle pastes, salsas or tapanenades like this.  Truffle scented mayo, truffle salts, add truffle to pasta sauce, add truffle onto steak or chicken, truffle is also fabulous in desserts like ice cream, panna cotta or Crème brûlée.  If you don’t like truffles that’s absolutely okay!

How to get Truffle Confidence

You could have truffle on your very own table for as little as $30 across 4-6 people.  You’ll be sure to get a round of applause for this one, you just need to have the confidence to simply shine! It’s called Truffle confidence and it’s easy. I think most people are afraid to incorporate truffles into their daily life but it doesn’t have to break the bank.  Their are truffle opportunities everwhere, and with a little confidence you can surely shine.  Not all truffles are equal but if you want to add a little glamour to your daily cuisine you could even opt for ‘fake’ or not so valuable truffle and buy a Burgandy truffle from Aldi, your local deli or online.

How to shop for truffles NOW from the comfort of your own life

Of course nothing is going to beat hopping on that foodie plane and sipping fabulous wine while you head for some of Australias finest truffle farms.  That in itself is a worthwhile journey BUT if that’s not possible here you go.

For a list of online truffle orders, look no further! These are just some selections!

The Truffle Farm, Canberra

Tarago Truffles

Madame Truffles Online Truffle

Perigord Truffles of Tasmania

Enjoy and happy cooking!

Chef Mel

 

 

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