Three months of truffle hunts & degustation events
The Canberra Truffle Festival is held between June and August, over the coldest months in Canberra. Each year, as the mornings become frosty and days get colder, truffle farmers around the region rub their hands with glee as it becomes the perfect conditions for their dogs to sniff out Black Truffles - a black fungi delicacy that fetches between $1500 - $2000 a kilo! This black fungi, called the Périgord or Black Truffle, grows underneath oak or hazelnut trees in the right climatic conditions. As Canberra has the same climate as the truffle-growing regions in France, it is the ideal place for them to flourish.
Over the next 3 months, truffle-enthusiasts can visit these farms and follow the trained dogs as they sniff out the smell of truffles and watch them unearth these prized delicacies. After the Truffle Hunt, you often get to have a little taste of one or enjoy a degustation meal on the farm cooked by a fine dining chef. There are also events around the region held at restaurants, bars, pubs, shopping centres and eateries, to showcase what you can do with the unique, earthy taste of the Black Truffle. The following list is just 5 ways to make the most of this fascinating, uniquely-Canberra festival. So rug up, put on your walking shoes on and be ready for a degustation experience with a difference!
The prized Black Truffle. Image: Canberra Truffle Festival Facebook
1/ Blessing of the Dogs is a popular, traditional event at the start of each festival, to bless the dogs and ensure a safe and prosperous truffle season ahead. The blessing will be held at Tarago Truffles, conducted by the Rt Revd Tom Frame of Mulwaree Anglican Parish. Afterwards, watch the dogs go on a hunt and then sit down for a truffle-themed country-style lunch afterwards. See here for details.
2/ Truffle Hunts are held at the farms around the region over the three months - with the closest being at The Canberra Truffle Farm in Majura, just 20 minutes from the city centre. Other farms running Truffle Hunts are Blue Frog Truffles, Turralla Truffles, Tarago Truffles, Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines and L'Air du Wombat Truffles. Join in on the hunt only, or choose an event where you can try the truffle afterwards - such as truffle scrambled eggs for brunch or lunch followed by a shot of truffle-infused vodka! See here for a full listing of events. Although kids are welcome on the Truffle Hunts, why not book into a special Macenmist Family Truffle Hunt, which is aimed more at the littlies. Rug up warm though - it will be cold!
Book in early for a Truffle Hunt with these cuties! Image: Canberra Truffle Festival Facebook
3/ Cooking Classes will be held during the festival, so interested cooks can learn how to get the most flavour out of this unique ingredient. Turalla Truffles will be hosting Truffle Hunts followed by Truffle Cooking Masterclasses with Canberra Chef Andrew Haskins, on 30th June and 22nd July. Chef Andrew Hoskins is known around Canberra for his cooking school 3 Seeds and has learnt how to marry the right flavours together for a truffle meal to remember. The best part? You get to eat everything afterwards! See here for details.
4/ Westfield Woden Truffle Market Day (30th June) and Westfield Belconnen Truffle Market Day (28th July) is an opportunity for people who haven't attended the festival, to still be able to learn more about this prized fungi and maybe even get to taste some! The events will feature cooking demonstrations from local chefs, wine tastings, local market stalls, food sampling and free kids' activities. These days are popular each year, so ensure you get there early and enjoy all the activities on offer! See here for Woden details and here for Belconnen details.
Get involved in all the fun at Truffle Market Days. Image: Canberra Truffle Festival Facebook
5/ Other restaurants and eateries around the city will also be highlighting the use of the truffles in their meals, with a wide variety of uses for the Black Truffle. In previous years, there have been truffle-infused beers, cheese, ice-cream, doughnuts, spreads and entire degustation events using truffles in every course. During the festival, it is always surprising to see which venue around Canberra will take on the truffle challenge and use it in their own unique way. See the Canberra Truffle Festival Facebook for details.
This year, the Canberra Truffle Festival will be celebrating 10 years of this popular and growing event. Each year there are more things to do and events added to the list, as more people travel to Canberra to enjoy this unique festival. Who needs to travel to France to taste a truffle, when you can experience it all right here, in the nation's capital?
The many tasty ways of enjoying the Black Truffle! Image: Original photos from Canberra Truffle Festival Facebook