There is something glorious about winter in Canberra. Crisp chilly air, blue sunny skies, chilli hot chocolates and endless foodie adventures and cosy venues to warm your bones.
Everyone complains about Canberra winters but it’s my favourite time of year. In my cosy knits and leather boots it’s the perfect time to explore the smorgasbord of events to keep me entertained and thoroughly fed.
We are blessed that Canberra is home to some fabulous local wineries, endless restaurants and our very own French black truffle farm. Winter is the time where truffles bloom and you’ll notice eateries around town showcasing their finest recipes using this exotic ingredient.
Most years I attend a truffle degustation of some sort but thought this year i’d do something different and partake in the Mount Majura Truffle Experience. This includes a full day truffilin’ – the day starting at French Black Truffles of Canberra for a truffle hunt. Next on the agenda is a pit stop to Mount Majura Vineyard to indulge in local brie infused with truffle matched with some local wines. The final stop for the day being a 4 course lunch at Pod Food in Pialligo. Decadent I know!
I booked my tickets weeks in advance and it couldn’t roll around quickly enough. Sadly the day started rather wet and gloomy, but we donned our gumboots and rain coats and headed down to the trufferie for the hunt. The hunt starts sharply at 10am, we arrived at 10:20 and were locked out of the farm. Luckily a kind staff member took pity on our tardy selves and let us in. We sneaked in ever so silently and managed to snag front row seats.
Manager, Jason, was in the midst of giving his spiel about the French black truffle. He covered the history, growing practices and the big ticket price (they can fetch up to $3000 per kilo!!!). Apparently Canberra has a good combination of conditions to make truffle growing possible: being the right climate and soil conditions, including access to the necessary lime to ensure the soil is adequately alkaline.
It took the owners 2.5 years to dig their first truffle and they haven’t looked back since!
After some “smell tests” of truffles, we headed outside with the truffle dog to find the hidden treasure.
The farm has 2,500 trees, a mix of holly oaks and hazelnut trees. It’s a beautiful vista with Mount Majura as the backdrop.
Joining us was the truffle dog (I forgot her name). Dogs are used regularly for sniffing out truffles, pigs can also be used but they have the tendancy to be greedy guts, and eat the truffles!
It wasn’t long before our faithful helper was digging at the base of an oak tree and we were given the opportunity to dig the truffle out ourselves, which of course I did.
It was nervous work making sure you don’t break the truffle whilst digging. Jason taught us to keep sniffing the soil to see how close we were getting. I personally couldn’t notice a difference but Jason’s experienced nose picked it up straight away.
We unearthed the truffle and then stood back to appreciate our discovery. Although not the biggest of the season, it was a good find!
We shortly unearthed another, larger than the last and we all got the chance to hold it before taking our treasure and heading to the warmth of the truffle shed to cut and grade it.
You are to wash and scrub truffles in cold water using a horsehair brush – this ensures the truffles are clean but don’t get damaged. What are you looking for in a good truffle? You should find a clear “brain” like pattern with dark black areas and with lots of thick white squiggly lines. The aroma is also assessed. The smellier the better.
It should look like this:
To warm us up, we were served delicious truffle soup which we devoured in no time. I saw other attendees were given truffle eggs which I was disappointed we didn’t receive.
Now learned truffle experts, we headed off to the next stop of our adventure, to Mount Majura Vineyard. If you’ve not been before, its a gorgeous little winery tucked into the heart of Canberra. They are open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10am – 5pm. However often they host Friday night wine and cheese happy hours so be sure to check their website for details.
We nestled into our table by the window and were promptly brought a plate of crackers, dried fruits and breadsticks. Soon followed the delicious wines. We sampled several wines including the sparkling, Chardonnay and two Pinot Noirs.
It wasn’t long before the beautiful local brie infused with truffle was at our table and we tucked in immediately. The brie was so perfectly creamy and held the subtle unique flavour of the truffle with every bite. Given my current condition (15 weeks expecting), I could only have a sip of wine – my favourite was the Chardonnay. It’s subtle buttery oak complimented the infused brie perfectly.
Before we knew it, 2 hours of chatting and laughing had passed, but we couldn’t ignore our grumbling stomachs any longer, so we pottered off to lunch. Not before the girls bought out the wine stock of course.
We piled into my car and headed for our last and most delicious stop, Pod Food for a 4 course meal with matched Majura Vineyard wines. We were greeted at the door, our jackets were whisked away and we were seated at a cosy table for three.
Whilst the girls pondered the wine menu, I got excited over what was to come.
The meal started with a simple yet divine truffle mushroom risotto with shaved garlic.
Followed by Portobello mushroom, truffled goats cheese, mushroom cream and kale.
Followed by the stand out pine smoked duck breast, Jerusalem artichoke galette, mustard, pear, perigueux jus.
Finished by a delicious apple and rhubarb crumble with truffle ice cream. My word was it divine! The truffle ice cream was sweet with a hint of truffle coming through. It was the perfect way to end a beautiful day with friends.
I can’t recommend the experience enough, although pricey at $165, it’s worth every pretty penny in my opinion.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Perfect for: a sunny wintery Canberra day.
Address: day commences at French Black Truffles of Canberra, Ruffles Estate, Mount Majura Road
Availability: Thursday/Saturday/Sunday July 6th- August 9th
Phone: (02) 6262 3070
Bookings: Essential, email email@example.com.
Get them on: Facebook & Instagram.
Don’t forget to hashtag #dinewiththemacadames and #canberrawiththemacadames if you go to this event, we love to see you exploring Canberra.
Anisa – The Macadames. xx