Christmas in July: Black Winter Truffles
A truffle is an irregular, round-shaped fruiting body of fungi, which grows underground in a symbiotic and mysterious relationship with the roots of trees. On average, truffles vary in size from a walnut to a golf ball, but there are sometimes exceptional truffles that can weigh a pound or more.
Tuber melanosporum is often called the black “Perigord” truffle, after the legendary truffles of that region of France. But black truffles are also found during the winter months in several parts of the Northern Hemisphere, including Italy and Spain. The black winter truffle drives people wild—it has dark, robustly-veined flesh that appears almost black-purple, and has the strongest flavor and aroma of all the black truffles.
Seasonality, the difficulty of locating the truffles, and erratic weather conditions all impact the cost of truffles, making them one of the most costly ingredients in kitchens around the world.
Remarkably, even miraculously, the black winter truffle has finally been cultivated in the Southern Hemisphere. With acidic soil, cool winters and warm summers, Australia offers conditions ideal for growing truffles, at least in the identified microclimate in Western Australia where we have found a successful truffière.
This is the holy grail of truffles.
The truffières were amply planted with oak and hazelnut trees whose roots were inoculated with truffle spores. The years of patience have been rewarded; they are now harvesting black truffles in their winter season, which is June through August. These trees are producing a steady supply of quality black winter truffles, which are located in the traditional manner, with truffle-sniffing dogs.
We are pleased to say that the Australian truffles are just as impressive as their European counterparts. It’s like Christmas in July for truffle fans, who can celebrate the extension of the season. One way of doing that is to make Tournedos Rossini.