Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Bookplate Truffle Tasting Breakfast
When one has twenty of one's closest friends popping around for a Christmas in July dinner (and a 9 kilogram turkey to roast), what should one do with a Sunday morning? I suggest taking two hours out to attend a truffle tasting breakfast at the Bookplate Cafe at the National Library, for starters.
The Foodie Fairy Godmother (aka my Mum) organised a table for four at the breakfast hosted by Sherry McArdle-English (the lovely owner of the truffier - or truffle farm - I visited last month) and Mark Carmody, who you might know from our local ABC radio and the ABC news weather reports... he always wears very large flowers on his lapel, so you can't miss him! As the four courses and champagne rolled out, Sherry talked to us about why and how she set up her farm, the life of a truffle farmer and, of course, stories of her super-cute truffle hunting American Cocker Spaniel, Snuffles.
It was a tremendous way to spend a Sunday morning, but the highlight for me had to be the truffle ice-cream with armagnac syrup. Who would have thought that steeping shaved truffles in your vanilla custard base overnight could result in such an incredible, yet subtle, ice-cream flavour. But I should probably start at the very beginning, rather than skipping ahead to the "dessert" of the breakfast.
We kicked off with an egg cocotte, with the egg having nestled overnight in a jar with the truffles from Sherry's farm and absorbed their flavour. Again, this was a delicate taste, merely scented with truffle earthiness, but a lovely way to kick off the event (even if it was a tiny bit undercooked for my liking). I forgave Bookplate any under cooking because they specially made me a cup of coffee even though it was not supposed to be served until the ice-cream - bless them! I am not ready to eat anything, let alone truffles, without my first cup of coffee of the day...
Now, caffeinated and full of eggy goodness, we moved onto the salad course. Fresh salad leaves with artichokes, pine nuts and julienned slivers of truffle and tossed through with a vinaigrette concocted with house-made truffle oil. (Incidentally, Sherry told us most truffle oil sold in shops is artificial truffle flavouring, which is rather like buying vanilla essence rather than using vanilla beans or even vanilla essence.)
Next up, an old favourite - mushroom ravioli with shaved truffles and a butter-sage sauce. Sometimes classics are classics for a reason... I need say no more.
Finally, the previously mentioned amazing truffle ice-cream. All I can say is, if you haven't had truffle ice-cream and champagne for breakfast, you haven't lived! And at that point, it was time to rush home to dress my turkey for the Big Dinner... and for her six hours of roasting...but more on that in the next post.