TK PART II THE HUNT

I’m up early and drive into MAN-JI–MUP; -  a charming small town.  The first port of call is the Southern Roasting Co and after my first coffee,  I know it will be my second home for the week!  I meet the lovely and very talented Perth-based photographer Jessica Wyld.  We explore the area a little; motoring past incredible orchards bursting with lush Avocado trees.  This fertile soil fleetingly reminds me of the computer game “Farmville” as the produce (beautiful organic apples, strawberries, avocados) is literally dripping from the trees.    We go off to explore the forests and size ourselves up against the Jurassic karri, marri and jarrah trees. 

 

Later on, I’m picked up by Mr & Mrs Pottinger Senior.  David & Elma were born in Scotland, the lovely couple are taking me to my first truffle hunt.  We arrive at the Pottinger Estate...  David Pottinger junior - the "Truffier" - will be taking me on the hunt and I am beyond excited at this point.  He tells me that hazelnut & oak trees are planted & inoculated along with truffle trim to encourage the growth and cultivation.   This particular truffle orchard or "Truffiére" we are in, is sloping.  Most importantly truffles love damp and humid conditions.   This micro-climate seems to be in perfect harmony.   We have to be careful where we walk on the beautifully bright green moss, you can almost see the truffles erupting underground.

 

No pigs are really used anymore as they sometimes used to eat the truffle.  Dogs are gentle, so we have an adorable labrador working with us today.  He sniffs out the truffle and paws at it, wearing mini leather dog socks to guard his paws.  When he finds the truffle, he is given a little treat (a chew) and happily goes on to find the next one.  His tail is constantly wagging…. - probably the perfect dogs’ life?  Then the “Ramasseur” highlights the truffle with florescent orange ribbon. 

Now its David’s turn, delicately but very quickly, he digs the truffles out by hand.   They have to be quick and ensure it is the right time to harvest the truffle, it needs to be perfect ripeness to get the best shelf life. It blows my mind that we can have them at my restaurant in London in 48 hours!  It starts to rain, as only it can in faraway places, that sheer-fine rain, but I don’t even notice.  I stand back and squint - I can almost see the ground steaming with truffle fumes.  I have a quick reality check and realise - I am hunting truffles in probably the best orchard in the world.  David harvests 18kgs of prime Australian truffles.  Wow.  

 

After which we drink wine from the local vines, and start a beautiful meal where David’s wife Julie and team have prepared a beautiful feast of truffles with cheese, a truffled poached chicken and then to finish a beautiful truffle ice cream.  With the jet lag and the experience of the truffle hunt, I am in a place of heady contentment, I am one happy lady.  I fall asleep knowing it’s about to get even more truffle-tastic. 

Marianne Lumb