I was invited to the Red Hill Truffiere as a guest, however all opinions are my own.
It was a cold and drizzly Melbourne Winter’s day and Camilla arrived. She quickly popped inside my apartment and dropped off some Green Press juices which I was excited about. We jumped in the car and I plugged in the address of the Red Hill Recreation centre. 1:10 mins away, perfect. We were going truffle hunting in Melbourne.
We drove down the highway through drizzly weather and discussed food the entire way, of course. We were on our way to go truffle hunting at Red Hill, an experience neither of us have had. Being total foodies, we had planned this trip around delicious coffee and had to stop at the Red Hill Epicurean to order a long black and a creamy soy latte, one of the best coffee’s I’ve ever had. We had a quick look at the food and home wares on offer and quickly realised we could spend a day alone in the Epicurean and had to leave, it was time to meet our group.
We arrived and followed the tour guide to a small truffle farm just down the road. The rain was beating down, the Red Hill soil staying true to it’s name. Converse shoes were a terrible choice. We met Danielle from The Mornington Pennisula Experiences and Jenny from the Red Hill Truffiere who kindly lent me a huge pair of blue gumboots.
Jenny inherited the farm in 2003 and wanted to grow something different. The soil was rich in iron and most Truffieries grow in red soil so after some experimenting, the Red Hill Truffiere was born.
A small group of 8 stood on the porch, fascinated, listening to the history of the farm and the techniques used to ensure truffle growth. Thomas the truffle dog sitting there, eyes fixed on the rows of trees ahead.
We started to walk down to the rows of thinly pruned oak tree’s all planted in a row, and at first I was a little disappointed that the truffles weren’t grown in thick lush dense pine forest (cue photo op).
Jenny explained that the truffles needed direct sunlight on the soil to grow under the ground, so it was imperative that the trees were thinly pruned to maximised direct sunlight and exposure. She explained that in Europe, the truffle production is only just recovering from the devastation of World War II as the forests were either bombed and ruined, or left overgrown so the truffles growing on tree roots were starved of sunlight for decades.
Suddenly I was less superficial about the thick pines and really appreciated the art of growing such a tasty fickle fungus. Thomas the truffle dog was a rescue dog, and was picked up from the pound and trained to sniff out truffles for a living. His eyes were never far from the base of a tree and he had one agenda: smell truffles = get treats.
We set off, with Thomas running mad and sniffing the base of all the tree’s. He sat and we all crowded round with excitement. Jenny started digging and alas, a truffle! We all got down in the mud and gave the truffle a smell in the ground and the scent was intoxicating.
We found 3 good truffles and a few rotten ones. Generally 20% of all truffles found are rotten and we were strongly advised not to smell them because it would ruin our ‘nose’… some brave souls did. After an hour of hunting, we set back to the farmhouse for my favourite part of the day: tasting time.
The lovely people at Red Hill Truffierie had ready steaming hot cups of cauliflower truffle infused soup and crusty bread so naturally, the first thing Camilla and I did was take photos! We then tried some truffle infused French brie and truffle butter, salted truffled chocolate tarts and I took home some truffle infused eggs for brunching.
The entire experience was fantastic, with a new appreciation for the truffles, gumboots and the price of truffles. We then went back to the Epicurean and had lunch with Casey (who makes the beautiful RAW Chocolate) and her family, picked up some pies from Johnny Ripe for Jackson and turned back to Melbourne. The next morning I woke and made a french omelette with my truffled eggs and chives. Bliss.
Truffle pairs perfectly with light carbohydrates and fat, so pasta, egg, cheese, butter and similar flavoured foods. To cook truffle never heat over 75 degrees otherwise the flavour is ruined and slow cook at a lower temperature if roasting.
Are you a fan of truffles? If so, the Melbourne Truffle festival is on right now! You can also book your own Truffle experience here. The events range from truffle hunts, tastings, truffle 2 course meals and more.
Have a wonderful day, Bec x