Cooking with truffles is not a trifling matter, says Margan chef Thomas Boyd
Margan Restaurant at Broke has a firm “estate grown, estate made” policy but head chef Thomas Boyd is happy to make an exception when it comes to truffles.
Tarago Truffles, that is. After visiting the farm near Goulburn a couple of months ago Boyd decided to create a one-off menu that showcased the elusive and highly sought-after funghi. It will be offered at Margan this Sunday, August 13, during a special lunch sitting.
The Margan Truffle Degustation is a set menu featuring five courses – three savoury and two sweet. Among the dishes on the menu is Little Hill Farm chicken with truffle and chestnut; and Angus beef rump with truffled mashed potatoes and braised brisket. Bread and butter with truffle will be offered, as well as cheeses.
The cost is $140 per person and includes a glass of sparkling on arrival. Quite reasonable, really, considering top-grade hand-picked truffles cost $2 to $3 a gram, and anywhere from $2000 to $4000 a kilogram.
“It’s smack bang in the middle of truffle season – truffles are only ready in Australia once a year,” Boyd tells Food and Wine.
“Truffles are native to Italy but Australia has been the first country to commercially farm them.
“There is nothing out there like it. It’s hard to describe. Truffles are sweet, earthy and nutty with a pungent aroma. They are eaten raw and are actually an aromatic, with 99 per cent smell and 1 per cent flavour.”
They are so expensive, he explained, because they are so difficult to farm.
“It takes more than 20 years to set up a truffle farm. You introduce truffle spores into the roots of nut trees like oak, hazelnut and chestnut trees. Then you wait for 10 consecutive, good frosts before the truffles start to form. They can take from one day to two weeks to mature. Then the dogs come and sniff them out. They can smell a truffle under the soil in about a two-metre radius.”
If you want to find out what all the fuss is about, head to the one-hatted Margan on Sunday for lunch and taste just how unique truffles are.