Before I went to Truffle Kerfuffle, a truffle festival in Manjimup, I though truffles were expensive, delicious and fungus. After the festival I know that a) I was right about them being fungus b) I was right about the expensive part too, $2000 per kilo and c) I was wrong about the delicious part … they are so much more than that. They are off the scale delicious and madly aromatic to the point where the smell has invaded the entire kitchen and I never, ever want it to go.
Saturday was the third annual Truffle Kerfuffle held at Fonty’s Pool in Manjimup, about two hours from Bunbury through WA’s beautiful Southern Forest region.
As one of the main sponsors of the event Colonial Brewing were kind enough to offer tickets to myself and my partner. Of course we accepted – truffles and beer, sign me up!
We arrived as the gates were opening and discovered that whilst truffles might be in abundance right now, mobile phone coverage was not. That put a small dent into my arrangements with Richard, Brewery Manager for Colonial Brewing, who I was to call on arrival to grab the tickets.
After an unsuccessful attempt to use a Telstra pay phone, it most likely failed due to the poor thing never being used and simply forgetting its single purchase in life, we spoke to a lovely woman named Pam. She kindly gave us wristbands and we promised to return very quickly with the tickets as soon as we found the Colonial guys.
We quickly found the bar but there wasn’t a Colonial t-shirt in sight; the Colonial boys were M.I.A. Oh dear.
Whilst that unfolded we attended one of the cooking demonstrations at the Paddock to Plate Auditorium, the first session featured chef Sophie Budd. I met Sophie not long ago at the Slow Food Perth Sunday Session that was held at Sophie’s cooking school, ‘Taste Budds’.
Sophie held a Children’s Cooking Class featuring pan fried potato gnocchi and shaved black truffle. It made me think that the modern day family kitchens must be a totally different scene than it was twenty years ago when I was a kid (gasp, I’m old, gasp twenty years, gasp!). I remember making scones with my mum and her teaching me to make picklets but we certainly didn’t embark on the culinary journey that some kids are taking. I’m an adult, allegedly, and I’m still trying to cook perfect gnocchi so watching this class and how relevant it was to the kids there just blew me away.
[On a slight tangent, the session reminded me of a recent column I read from Jay Rayner (UK) who talked about experimenting in the kitchen. His wife and nine year old son have a blog called Dan’s Amazing Bread Factory and if you like bread and imagination then you’ll love this]
Back to the Colonial Brewing bar and we discovered that a flat tyre and busted rim had held up our beery heroes.
Justin “Foxy” Fox, Colonial Brewing head brewer, had managed to hitchhike to the event with a lovely older couple who he’d promised a few complimentary ales for their trouble. Richard was still trying to make his way to the event …
Foxy announced they had a new beer; so new in fact they had only kegged it on Thursday, a reduced alcohol India Pale Ale aka RIPA.
RIPA is essentially a best-of Foxy beer, taking three of his favourite elements from brews from his past – gravity from his award winning Shafto’s Reward from his time at Swan Brewery; malt bill and hop style from The Chief whilst he was head brewer at The Monk Brewery and the mild hopping from that same beer.
Foxy has used citra hops, not hiding his love for them, in the RIPA along with some centennial. The result is a full flavoured reduced alcohol beer, something that there’s simply not enough of. Citrus, light malts and floral but without the sometimes overpowering tropical fruits that are often in American style IPAs. It’s a damn beautiful beer.
Richard finally made it to the festival thanks to the guys at Manjimup Tyre and Auto Electrical, woo! Go there for all your tyre needs folks.
Foxy and Richard teased me with information about their truffle baltic porter they’d created that was oh-so-close to being ready. They also gave details of something called Project X … but since this is turning out to be another of my extra long rambling posts I will leave the details of this for later in the week.
Lunch at the Truffle Kerfuffle was not even close to what you’d call festival food. For me last years Gourmet Escape had raised the bar for food in a festival situation and now, well, I don’t know how you trump this –
And of course we couldn’t leave without buying some truffles from Manjimup Truffles. We took home twenty grams. Since then shaved black truffles have appeared in a few home cooked dishes and the kitchen still overwhelming smells like truffles. Why isn’t there an air freshener that smells like truffles?