Friday sees me hanging out with the lovely Di Bortoletto and we go to the home of Carlo Pescotto at Karri Country Gourmet Potatoes.  A third generation farmer, Carlo treats us to a tour  but this is delayed by a cow who is about to give birth - we witness the amazing!  A beautiful, healthy calf being brought into the world.  On a high, we walk to the potato fields and pull several varieties from the ground and Carlo cooks them on the back of his truck at the edge of the field. They are drenched in salt, butter and flat leaf parsley, they taste superb - excellent mise-en-place Carlo! 

I am using potatoes as part of my demonstration and my first dish is a "truffled dauphinoise" I settle on the Dutch cream potatoes, their creaminess is perfect.  The symphony of truffles, potatoes and cream is something I dream about.  Chef Mark Raffan first taught me how to make dauphinoise at Gravetye Manor… I’ve adapted it over the 19 years or so since I was there, but it is pretty much the same recipe with the obvious addition of truffles, both matchsticks and slices if you please. And at this festival, the cherry on the cake is that we are in a parallel universe so we can use as many truffles as we like!! 

Next up will be one of my favourite ever salads.. I first tried it at a restaurant in the South of France… There, it contains raw artichokes, but I am adapting it for the cold climate… so with celeriac, fennel instead along with the hazelnut, parmesan & truffle... The salad is especially good because of the affinity that truffles have with hazelnuts…   My third dish is a truffled brie.  A certain Giles Coren was once very nice about mine, so I thought, why not?  Particularly as there is a local cheese called "the Cambray triple cream brie"  

These dishes are to be cooked fireside, in a beautiful cabin for 22 guests.  As they watch us cook, they will sip paired wines, in my case, a great selection from Chestnut Grove.  

So, rather excitingly Max Veenhuyzen from Gourmet Traveller is our compare for the weekend and I am cooking alongside some massive food heroes of mine...  I have the great pleasure in meeting Mark Best, Bruno & Catherine Loubet, Guy Grossi, Sam Aisbett, & Tony Howell

Also local heroes, Sophie Zalokar, Sue Hitchins & Rachel Niall.  For those of you who don't know Mark Best (on this side of the pond) had a very successful restaurant In Sydney called "Marque".  Amongst many other accolades he won the World's 50 Best Breakthrough Award in 2010.  Now, he has a restaurant called BISTRO by Mark Best on the Genting Dream (a yacht in Singapore)  His cooking is the inspiration I am hungry for...beautiful cooking with an Asian influence….

“Grilled Marron with curry leaf butter, stir fried potatoes with Sichuan pepper, black vinegar & truffle”

Followed by; -  “Pear poached in honey with truffle & blue cheese”  

Watching him cook reminds me of the time I was lucky enough to be backstage at a Metallica concert.   I feel smug that I get to watch a master at work.  He talks about time in Paris cooking at L'Arpege and his secret place for a siesta, his wonderful stories are nourishment for the soul. 

Dinner is under the stars hosted by Chef Paul Iskov of Fervor… Paul celebrates native produce and lives in this completely amazing little van.  It is so perfectly designed that it houses everything to put on these incredible pop ups, even the napkins and a dishwasher.  He works with aborigines wherever he goes so he can really tune into the native produce.   

.....Am I truffled out yet?  Never!

Marianne Lumb