September 10, 2014

The ‘Dirt Whisperer’ – Truffle Hunting

T’was a flippin freezing wintery Sunday morning during mid truffle season when I ventured out to Sutton near Canberra on the New South Wales border for a good old-fashioned Truffle Hunt. Sporting a brand new pair of leopard print gumboots, and about 14 layers of warm clothes to combat the icy air, we traipse single file through ankle deep puddles, across rolling hills to arrive at what seems a pretty ordinary windswept paddock with Oak trees scattered throughout.

The ‘Dirt Whisperer’ – Truffle Hunting. Anna Johnston -

‘Let Us Begin’, says The Dirt Whisperer. He explains we can hunt for truffles in just about any conditions, rain, hail or snow. Everything it seems except for wind as it throws the dog off the scent.

The ‘Dirt Whisperer’ – Truffle Hunting. Anna Johnston -

We follow the trained truffle dogs around the orchard, often on hands and knees to smell the fertile, rich and oh so pungent earth in the search of the elusive Truffle. It isn’t too long before we strike black gold either. I was pretty amazed actually, I expected to find truffles that were small, more the size of a lime that I knew so well while Chefing in London, but hot diggity, our first find gave us a meaty nugget the size of a large apple. We greedily pass around the truffle and have a sniff. The perfume is difficult to describe – it’s earthy & woody & a bit damp, a little like freshly mowed grass with the slightest hint of air after rain in there somewhere too.

The ‘Dirt Whisperer’ – Truffle Hunting. Anna Johnston -

Finding the right truffle and digging it up is all about timing – and of course a good truffle dogs’ sniffer. The pups consider truffle hunting a game and are rewarded with hugs, cuddles and meaty treats. The truffles are brushed off and proudly displayed for all to see.

The ‘Dirt Whisperer’ – Truffle Hunting. Anna Johnston -

Following the fun filled truffle hunting, we head to a make shift camp site with a fire pit to warm up and enjoy truffled brie, shots of truffled vodka (party in the paddock right?) and mini truffled pies. Truffles are classified as a vegetable, they have no fat, no sugar and have a high water content, and they are also high in essential minerals and trace elements. Truffles are healthy! #BOOM

The ‘Dirt Whisperer’ – Truffle Hunting. Anna Johnston -

The taste and flavours of the fresh black truffle, they are something I recommend everyone try at least once. For me, the texture is kind of nutty, & smells more pungent than a porcini mushroom. The real thing tastes nothing like the overpowering scent of truffle oil that is commonly found in commercial kitchens and restaurants.

The ‘Dirt Whisperer’ – Truffle Hunting. Anna Johnston -

There are few things in the foodie world that elicit as much excitement and wonder than this elusive fungi, and as a Berra native I tend to agree. I stand before you, hand over heart and claim that we as the Nation’s Capital are well on the way to holding the title of producing some of the world’s best truffles. The Truffle Festival starts on Winter Solstice and runs until late August.

So tell me dear reader, did you hit up any of the truffle dinners in the ACT this year? Have you ever been truffle hunting and what are your thoughts on fresh truffles?

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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Denise Browning@From Brazil To You - October 1, 2014 Reply

What a fun activity! I would like to hunt truffles one day. Black truffles are much more expensive than the white ones. That black one in your hands looks huge.

    Anna - October 1, 2014 Reply

    Oh yeah Denise, the nugget I found was HUGE. 🙂 I was rather chuffed with my find.
    If you can get on a hunt, I absolutely recommend it. Such fun.

Sophie - October 1, 2014 Reply

This is so cool! You went truffle hunting, great is that? Woehoe!

    Anna - October 1, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Sophie! 🙂
    It was really great fun, pretty lucky we have easy access to truffles and hunting opportunities.

Hannah - September 30, 2014 Reply

Truffles are delicious!!! Sooooo yum!!!

I’ve never been on a truffle hunt but really want to!

maybe I’ll get to it next year…

    Anna - September 30, 2014 Reply

    YEASSSSSS…. Lets just go on a hunt, no matter what. 🙂

Evelyne@cheapethniceatz - September 28, 2014 Reply

So cool and I am so jealous. I wish we had some here to go hunting for them. Love the vodka idea. oh and awesome boots 😉

    Anna - September 30, 2014 Reply

    Well I’d be more than happy to take you on a hunt here in the Berra Evelyne. 🙂
    The vodka was amazing and I thank you very much re the boots. Rather stylish aight?!

Krista - September 23, 2014 Reply

I’ve never heard of a truffle dinner, but it sounds so fun!! You guys are all so cute bundled up to the hilt. 🙂

    Anna - September 23, 2014 Reply

    Canberra goes off during truffle season, all the restaurants put on special truffle fueled dinners. It might just be a Berra thing because we have easy access to them.
    If you can get on a hunt, I totally think you’d love it. 🙂

Elizabeth - September 20, 2014 Reply

WOW, WOW, WOW…. I am so coming to Canberra to to that next year….so put it in your diary so we can catch up! Liz x

    Anna - September 21, 2014 Reply

    HECK YEAH Liz! 🙂 Sounds wonderful….. Super can’t wait to hunt truffle and catch up with you giiirrrl! 🙂 xo

Dedy@Dentist Chef - September 20, 2014 Reply

You know what, foraging truffle is one of my thing to do before died list….
lucky you my friend!!!

    Anna - September 21, 2014 Reply

    Sooooooo fun Dedy! 🙂 You absolutely must. And I can’t wait to see what you cook with it too.

Sriprae - September 20, 2014 Reply

Truffle hunting sounds extraordinarily fun–especially if it is accompanied with a tasty cook-out afterwards. 😉

I have not had fresh Truffle before. There’s a scene in “Haute Cuisine” (The story of Danièle Delpeuch and how she was appointed as the private chef for President François Mitterrand) where the President visits his private chef in the kitchen late one night and she fixes him toast with a spread of foie gras topped with thinly sliced Truffles…paired with a glass of excellent red wine, of course. So simple, yet so elegant. It just looked pretty darn tastey. Not sure if I would be a foie gras fan, but if I had thinly sliced Truffles in my possession, I will get a baguette, drizzle evoo on each slice, lightly grill it on my stove-top grill, spread a thin layer of quality lightly-herbed butter on those warm slices and top it with those Truffle-crisps…paired with a glass of excellent red wine, of course. 😉

I love reading about your adventures. Happy weekend to you, dearest!

Much love! xox

    Anna - September 21, 2014 Reply

    Ohhhhhhhh MG Sriprae…. I’ve got the truffle girlfriend, I’m coming over! 🙂
    Gahhhh…. Absolutely drooling at your oh so delicious description. Soooo good!
    Hope you are enjoying your weekend too. Here’s Cheers! Loves and hugs. xox

anotherday2paradise - September 18, 2014 Reply

How wonderful to go hunting for your very own truffles. I know how expensive they are to buy, so you must have been very thrilled with these. 🙂

    Anna - September 18, 2014 Reply

    Yeah, it was such a great experience. Loved it, if only we got to take home the giant nugget too. 🙂

The Squishy Monster - September 17, 2014 Reply

Please take me with you next time! I’ve never been but have always wanted to. AND there’s cheese?! =)

    Anna - September 17, 2014 Reply

    Deal Girlfriend! 🙂
    And heck yeah, I was ready to sign up again when I spotted that wheel of truffle cheese. #sogood

Erin | The Law Student's Wife - September 15, 2014 Reply

Look at that truffle! What a cool experience. I adore truffled everything, and I’m completely jealous!

    Anna - September 17, 2014 Reply

    Ohhhhh yeah! It was massive, I felt like the wealthiest woman on the planet holding that nugget. 🙂
    And couldn’t agree more…. Everything tastes better with truffles on it! 🙂

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl - September 15, 2014 Reply

Your boots and your sunnies are major cute. I never went truffle hunting, I feel like I’m missing out now!

    Anna - September 17, 2014 Reply

    Thanks Lovely One! 🙂
    Well you guys are about to head into winter, you can do a hunt for sure!

My Inner Chick - September 14, 2014 Reply

I hear that truffles are like gold. Is this true.
Thank you for taking me with you on this adventure!
btw, what will you make w/ them?

    Anna - September 14, 2014 Reply

    Kim, truffles are the business. Delicious little morsels of yum! 🙂
    Thanks for adventuring with me.
    This seasons truffles eating shenANNAgans involved spatchcock, venison, white chocolate, and brie too. 🙂 I actually consumed a bunch of truffle fuelled feeds. #yarm

Jean | Holy Smithereens - September 13, 2014 Reply

I’ve never gone truffle hunting before, but the experience looks great! I love your furry headwear too. And I didn’t even know that there are trained dogs to truffle hunt!

    Anna - September 13, 2014 Reply

    Totally worth experiencing once Jean, especially if you get treats like cheese and vodka at the end. 🙂
    Haha… That beanie is rather crazy looking, but super warm.
    The pups love it, such fun watching them hunt too. Its like a special game of hide & seek.

Alyssa @ My Sequined Life - September 13, 2014 Reply

What an interesting experience, Anna! I loved learning about the process of hunting truffles. What a find! And P.S. love your boots!

    Anna - September 13, 2014 Reply

    It was really great fun Alyssa, especially when you strike black gold! 🙂
    And I thank you very much, those leopard print boots are the business. LOL!

Choc Chip Uru - September 12, 2014 Reply

I have never been truffle hunting before, but now I know I need to give this a try! Seems like the most fun experience 😀
Great photos you look beyond happy!

Choc Chip Uru

    Anna - September 13, 2014 Reply

    Oh totally get on a hunt next winter CCU, actually…. I have a fabulous idea… Why don’t you come to the Berra and do a hunt with me?! Yeassss. Thanks for the compliments re the photos, I did have a ball. 🙂

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - September 12, 2014 Reply

Truffles definitely help ease the cold of winter (although we don’t get quite as cold as you guys do!). Glad that we got to see the leopard print gum boots too! 😉

    Anna - September 13, 2014 Reply

    Don’t they ever Lorraine, they are def one great thing about winter. 🙂
    Haha… Those little leopard print boots are the business. #lovethem

Kris Johnston - September 11, 2014 Reply

I love your descriptions of the smell of the truffles. I think of it the same way. The earthy smells bring such a level of elegance to most dishes that it is accompanied by. And then on the other hand, such a level of simplicity with its earthy notes.

I think it brings every dish to another level of “WOW’.

Wonderful photos, and again, a wonderful read. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

    Anna - September 11, 2014 Reply

    Why thank ya little bro! Totally right re your thoughts on the elegance and simplicity. An amazing little fungi huh?!
    Totally agree too re the WOW factor. Glad we got to experience a stella truffle dinner together this season.
    Thanks for being so supportive. xo

Hotly Spiced - September 11, 2014 Reply

Apart from the cold, I would love to go on a tour like this. What fun! And it must be so exciting when you do find the black gold. I was meant to attend a truffle event a few weeks ago but it was cancelled as I was told the truffle season ended early this year xx

    Anna - September 11, 2014 Reply

    It was SO much fun finding the giant nuggets, I enjoyed watching the trainer and pup work together too.
    You should pop down next truffle season for cheeky hunt and coffee with me Charlie. 🙂

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - September 11, 2014 Reply

What an amazing experience. I’ve bought fresh truffles in Sorento but never been hunting for them 🙂

    Anna - September 11, 2014 Reply

    How fabulous Tandy! You feel like royalty buying fresh truffles. Hope you get on a hunt soon. 🙂

Mandy - The Complete Book - September 11, 2014 Reply

Such clever pups sniffing out the truffles.
Now, it seems I am the only living human who has yet to try a truffle! No fair. Think I am going to sit in the corner and sulk for a while.
What a fab albeit cold day out Anna!
Have a beautiful day dear.
🙂 Mandy xo

    Anna - September 11, 2014 Reply

    They really are huh?! Cute too. 🙂
    W.H.A.T??? How is this possible Miss Mandy? Goodness me. Haha… to the sulking corner you go. LOL!
    It was a bunch of fun and I didn’t feel the cold too much, especially not after I had the vodka. Teehee.
    Wishing you a wonderful day too my sweet friend. xox

Alice - September 10, 2014 Reply

Hey Anna! I’ve certainly heard of the Truffle festival and I too was bummed out to miss it, (as I was overseas!) Nonetheless, I’m glad you got in your Truffle pro skills before I arrived next year!

I’m a truffle fiend, luckily the folks bought me back a jar of truffle carpaccio style, which I’m totally going to cook up and indulge in with some fresh pasta at home!

Your yummy post has me thinking this will be sooner, rather than later! Lol 🙂

    Anna - September 10, 2014 Reply

    Well sweet Alice, the really great thing about this is that you will be able to enjoy multiple hunts next year when you are in town, and enjoy many feasts at sooooo many of the restaurants around town too. I cant wait for you to be in town. 🙂

Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) - September 10, 2014 Reply

Oh, what fun – Anna – I once went on a truffle hunt in France – now that was an experience:)

    Anna - September 10, 2014 Reply

    WOW…. I bet that was amazing Rachel. I’d so love to do a hunt in France. Lucky you! 🙂

Susan - September 10, 2014 Reply

Yes I did. We had an amazing dinner with all things Truffles at the Column Restaurant at the Press Club. We are so lucky to have such fine fungi here in Canberra, I agree. Great post again ShenANNAgans.

    Anna - September 10, 2014 Reply

    Oh yeassss…. We were seriously spoilt with the truffle degustation menu at the Press Club, oh how delicious it was. 🙂

Lizzy (Good Things) - September 10, 2014 Reply

Slightly envious Ms Anna, as I love a good truffle hunt but missed out this year because of my broken foot! There’s always next year… looks like you had a delicious time!

    Anna - September 10, 2014 Reply

    Ohhhhh it was soooo fun Lizzy! 🙂
    And yes, never fear, there is totally next year to get your truffle on. I say we organise a Canberra Bloggers hunt.

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