Melbourne, it's time to get your truffle on. The window is brief - truffles are best when eaten fresh - so get your fix from June to August. Here's a round-up of some of the special truffle dishes and events around town.
Over two days Caulfield Racecourse will celebrate all things truffle with cooking demonstrations, a food market, mock truffle hunts with trained truffle dogs, a Champagne and caviar bar, a Philippe Mouchel truffle menu, and a ladies banquet lunch on the Sunday by Manu Fieldel.
Melbourne Truffle Festival, July 12-13, Caulfield Racecourse, Station St, Caulfield East. Daily tickets, adults $26, children (12-17 years) $10. Under 12s admitted free, trufflemelbourne.com
The $15 Madame Truffles truffle toastie is back (pictured below). A combination of sourdough bread, unsalted French butter, gruyere cheese and lashings of fresh truffle toasted until it's oozing and aromatic, it's the season's most accessible truffle experience. Find it at the Melbourne Truffle Festival and throughout July at: St Ali South, 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne, and for $14.50 at Guerilla Espresso, 81 Hopkins St, Footscray.
Madame Truffles pops up each year to sell truffles sourced from NSW, WA, TAS and VIC throughout the peak of the season. As well as fresh truffles, which can range in size from 10g up to 200g, the store sells a small range of truffle products including truffle pasta, truffle ice-cream and a vanilla macaron with a white chocolate and truffle ganache.
Thursday July 3 to Saturday August 9, Yarra Place, South Melbourne (opposite St Ali), Thurs-Sat 9am-5pm, madametruffles.com.au
Le Grand Cirque
Manu Fieldel has devised a French five-course black truffle feast featuring roasted squab breast stuffed with truffles, a caramelised onion and truffle tart, truffled camembert, and a chocolate tart with truffle ice-cream, to kick-off the Melbourne Truffle Festival.
Wednesday, July 2, Le Grand Cirque, 21 Daly Street, South Yarra, 9207 7427. $175 per person, legrandcirque.com.au
Scott Pickett and Madame Truffles have teamed up again for a four-course truffle dinner with matched wines as part of the Fringe Food Festival. Using truffles sourced from around Australia, the menu will pair black truffles with wagyu, marron, and Jerusalem artichoke, and will include a truffle dessert - truffled sponge with charred pear and honeycomb.
Monday, July 7 at The Estelle Bar & Kitchen, 243 High Street, Northcote, 9489 4609, $130 per person, estellebarkitchen.com.au
Vue de Monde
This year's Vue de Monde Black Diamond Dinner in celebration of the truffle features the creativity of Vue de Monde chef Joachim Lim and guest chef Curtis Duffy. A five-course degustation with matched wines, the menu will include a black truffle creme, truffles with pear, sweetbread, and smoked bone marrow.
Friday, July 4, 7pm at Vue de Monde, Level 55, 525 Collins Street, 9691 3888, $295 per person, vuedemonde.com.au
Guy Grossi joins chefs George Fowler and Shaun Quade for the Truffle Takeover, a six-course degustation celebrating the truffle at newly opened Italian restaurant Chiara.
Friday, July 11, 7pm at Chiara 705a Collins Street, Melbourne, 9252 7909, $190 per person, chiara.net.au
Truffles go with pasta, cheese and butter like the proverbial horse and carriage. The St Ali chefs at St Ali South and Rue & Co are planning the classic truffle combination: taleggio and potato tortellini with lashings of truffle butter.
Cecconi's celebrates the truffle on its winter menu with a risotto featuring Western Australian black winter truffles with parmesan and truffle oil for $30/$36.
In St Kilda, Circa is running a special truffle menu option at lunch and dinner every weekend until the end of August. A Truffled Life is a changing feast featuring truffles, $65 for four courses.
If you can't attend Vue De Monde's Black Diamond dinner then drop into Bisto Vue to try the truffle pasta ($37), a menu staple that includes extra shaved truffles during the season. Truffles will also be included in the mushroom risotto ($35).
St Ali South, 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne, 9686 2990; Rue & Co, 80 Collins Street, Melbourne, stali.com.au
Cecconi's, 61 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 8663 0500, cecconis.com
Circa, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda, 9536 1122, circa.com.au
Bistro Vue, Normanby Chambers, 430 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, 9691 3838, vuedemonde.com.au
The Truffle Hound aka Melbourne lawyer Sara Hinchey runs masterclasses on cooking with truffles throughout the season. As well as a masterclass at the Caulfield truffle festival, she'll be partnering with The Lakehouse Cooking School in Daylesford on July 20, and Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Foundation at Collingwood College on August 30. Recipes range from making simple truffle butter to truffled brie. See trufflehound.com.au
Truffle hunts are scheduled every weekend from now until mid-August with four Victorian growers in the Daylesford, Yarra Valley and Ballarat regions participating. Some hunt options include a truffle tasting, truffle cooking class or a truffle themed lunch. See trufflemelbourne.com.
Mushroom expert Damian Pike has just started selling Western Australian and Canberra truffles and is taking a wait-and-see approach with the other states as Victorian and Tasmanian truffles slowly start to come onto the market. He says the WA and ACT/NSW truffles are already proving to be excellent and it will be "a wonderful year for truffles". Pike's truffles are priced at $3-$4 per gram.
Shop 116, Prahran Market, 163 Commercial Road, Prahran
Black Truffle Harvest is based in south-west Gippsland and sells its own truffles, as well as truffles sourced from Tasmania. The product is enclosed in a small foam box with eco freezer blocks for temperature control and express posted. Owner Noel Fitzpatrick says orders are usually received within three days of the truffles being harvested. The truffles are priced at $2.49 a gram and a 40g minimum order applies. Fitzpatrick will also be selling his truffles at the July and August Veg Out Farmers' Markets in St Kilda. See truffleharvest.com.au
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed a truffle dinner at Grossi Florentino. This is not being held this year and has been removed from the piece.