Truffles Unearthed was conceived in 2020; a way to work with producers and the hospitality community at a time of great uncertainty. Little did we know that a year on many of those challenges would still exist, especially for our state’s truffle producers.
The West Australian Good Food Guide is excited to launch another season of Truffles Unearthed, pushing that original concept further, and again working with WA producers, chefs, sommeliers and winemakers to celebrate one of Australia’s most luxurious ingredients.
“Our reward for winter in the west is the return of fresh black truffles to our menus and our dining tables,” says Georgia Moore, Director of The West Australian Good Food Guide. “Assembling this line-up of talent has been like taking a snapshot of what’s great in our state’s hospitality scene” she says.
“Our reward for winter in the west is the return of fresh black truffles to our menus and our dining tables,”
“Beachside icon Il Lido (June 10) kicks off the season with a meeting of this great West Australian winter ingredient and wine from our regions. Something we’ve been keeping under wraps is the WA Good Food Guide Special Cellar Dinner (July 24) with Ben Ing, who until last year was the head chef of Noma in Copenhagen. We’ll also return to the south west with events at Cape Lodge (July 10-11), Vasse Felix (7th August), Chow’s Table (6th August) and Voyager Estate (August 14-15). There’s action in the CBD at Santini Bar + Grill (June 16), The Heritage Wine Bar (July 7), and close by on the banks of the Swan River at Cooee (July 22). We’ll be hitting the neighbourhoods at Ethos Deli + Dining Room (July 28) and hosting a closing party at Leederville’s Papagallo (August 23). And that’s just the dining events,” says Moore.
Asked to pin down the event that Moore is most excited about is tough. “Can I say all of them?” she says. “Matt Stone joining the WAGFG x Hart & Co Top Chef Demo Series will certainly be a highlight. Masterclasses form a big part of our calendar of events throughout the year and this is a homecoming for Matt. I think that will be really special. And of course, introducing Ben Ing to the WA dining public is huge (WA Good Food Guide Special Cellar Dinner, July 24). As head chef of Noma in Copenhagen, Ben scaled the peak of modern dining. It’s exciting to think what he could do here in WA in the coming years, and that WA Good Food Guide gets to make that first introduction.”
Matt Stone joining the WAGFG x Hart & Co Top Chef Demo Series will certainly be a highlight. Masterclasses form a big part of our calendar of events throughout the year and this is a homecoming for Matt. I think that will be really special.
Ing, now based in the south west, says he’s looking forward to getting back into service. “There’s only so much testing you can do at home, so it’ll be good to get into a professional kitchen,” he says. “You can think about the menu a lot and what you want to do, but it’s about putting out a coherent menu, getting the flow of it. I’m excited to get back into it.
“When you think of truffles in a dining atmosphere you think of luxury and generosity,” says Ing. “I want to take a little bit more of a creative aspect so not just shaving truffles all over a piece of beef or duck. I got a few preserved products from David Coomer to use, not your typical ways but still present in the dish so you can really taste the earth and feel the richness of it. I’ll go crazy with truffles on one dish maybe.”
As to whether Ing’s dinner will be Noma transplanted to WA, is quickly answered. “Noma is a different beast, and you can’t [I believe] produce what they do, anywhere in the world, let alone not having a professional kitchen to work out of.” Ing says he won’t so much be paring things back, more getting back to his roots and his style of cooking, “making things tasty, with soul and I want to bring the energy.” Noma, he says is one thing with the food, but another with service. Having an open kitchen and interacting with the guests, having them come up to the kitchen is, he says, a way that he can bring the experience and what he’s learnt from Noma.”
It’s not just WA newcomer Ing who is looking forward to the season ahead. Vasse Felix, head chef Brendan Pratt says, “we’re definitely hanging out to get the ‘Truff Bun’ back on the menu – a black pudding steamed bun with burnt butter and truffle.” Conceived last year for their WA Good Food Guide dinner, it was contributing editor Max Brearley who dubbed it “Truff Bun” and his hotly tipped dish of the season. “It’s never actually left the menu,” says Pratt. “We’ve been substituting truffle for pork floss out of the truffle season.”
While Pratt’s keen to bring back a winner he’s not short on inspiration. “We’ve always got a number of ideas in the works and we’re excited to see how they play out once we have fresh truffle to work with. This year we’ve been fermenting a vinegar with corn cobs. I’m excited as it’s got a nice funk and earthiness to it. I’m looking at how that will work mixed with a roasted onion garum and then using this chawanmushi with kernels, eggs and of course, lots of truffle.”
Who triumphs in the taste and inspiration stakes is perhaps the side show to the main star, the black truffle, which has carried the name of Manjimup to restaurant menus across the world. To once again celebrate it alongside WA’s best wine and produce is truly one of the joys of winter in the west.