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Canberra prepares for ‘exceptional’ truffle season

Canberra’s beloved winter festival celebrating all things truffles will go on this year, albeit slightly differently to its previous iterations.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s Truffle Festival will see a number of events head online, with a virtual French masterclass with Les Tres Bon’s Christophe Gregoire kicking off the festivities this weekend, Sunday 21 June.

Christophe says it is “very, very exciting” to be cooking with some of the first truffles of the season, “high quality” black truffles from the Bungendore region. He’ll be showing those viewing from home how to whip up a dessert using truffles, preparing snow eggs served with fresh truffles and toffee.

“We can do everything with truffles,” he says, “we can do a starter, an entrée or a main course. I’ve decided to be a different and do a dessert”.

While more virtual events are planned, including one with Aubergine’s Ben Willis, president of the Truffle Festival Association, Damian Robinson, says some old festival favourites will be back this year, too, like the beloved truffle hunts alongside Canberra’s cleverest canines.

“Everyone loves the truffle dogs, they steal the show every time!”

Preparing for a bumper season

Damian, who also owns Turalla Truffles in Bungendore, says this year is proving to be a bumper season for truffles in the region, with an abundance of great produce. He says events at Turalla are already 80% booked out.

“What a great truffle season we’re having,” he says, “the truffles coming up for June are exceptional”.

And while COVID-19 has meant the region has had less time to prepare, Damian is confident the festival will still pull a crowd.

“My gut feeling is it’s going to be heavily booked,” he says.

“On the tourist side of things, truffles tend to defy the odds. They are so popular and it’s such a small window so people are fascinated by them. We’re lucky in that sense.”

He puts the success of Canberra’s truffle industry down to the mature taste of the region’s produce, as well as a host of local chefs who “know what they’re doing”.

“We have that idyllic situation … We’re half an hour away from a major city.

“Even in France you don’t get that. The truffles are miles away from Paris – it’s kind of a unique thing.”

Damian says with restrictions keeping people at home, he’s also noticed an increase in people incorporating truffles into their dishes at home, having sold a “huge amount” over the weekend at the farmer’s market.

“A lot of people are cooking with truffles at home at the moment, a lot of foodies getting into it,” he says.             

The festival will run through to the end of August. For more information and the festival program, visit the Truffle Festival website.

Everyone’s favourite festival activity is back: head out with the truffle dogs to see what you can find.

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