Cooking with truffles is not a trifling matter, says Margan chef Thomas Boyd

UNIQUE: Head chef Thomas Boyd is hosting a Truffle Degustation at Margan Restaurant this Sunday, August 13. Picture: Dominique Cherry

UNIQUE: Head chef Thomas Boyd is hosting a Truffle Degustation at Margan Restaurant this Sunday, August 13. Picture: Dominique Cherry

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. Book online at margan.com.au or phone 6579 1317.

Margan is at 1238 Milbrodale Road, Broke.

Asian cravings

If you are craving freshly-made dumplings in a hot broth, drop in to Dumpling Flavour at 88 Darby Street. It is owned and operated by brother and sister team Wenxiang Jin and Yuqian Wang who, if all goes well, eventually hope to open a restaurant franchise of the same name. In addition to dumplings, wontons, dim sims, pork buns and spring rolls you can also order traditional Chinese cuisine from Dumpling Flavour. The menu already offers lots of choices in that regard but even more is to come, Wang said. 

Wine show

JUDGE: Elaine Chukan Brown is coming to the Hunter Valley for the first time for this month's The Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show at Singleton.

JUDGE: Elaine Chukan Brown is coming to the Hunter Valley for the first time for this month's The Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show at Singleton.

The Clear Image Hunter Valley Wine Show is returning to Singleton and this year’s guest judge is leading US wine writer Elaine Chukan Brown. This will be her first visit to the Hunter Valley and she will join other panel members in tasting up 130 show entry wines a day at Singleton Army Camp from August 21 to 25. An awards luncheon will take place on August 25 at Crown Plaza Hunter Valley, Lovedale.

Trawler to Table

Food & Wine has cast an eye over the Trawler to Table menus at this month’s Love Seafood festival and they are mouth-watering. Participating chefs really do go all out. 

An example. On August 25 at Little Nel Cafe, Nelson Bay, a four-course degustation Trawler to Table lunch will offer: Hiramasa kingfish sashimi with green apple, puffed black rice, wasabi emulsion and ponzu dressing; mud crab meat with anchovy, egg yolk, okra and bottarga; charcoal roasted tiger prawns, Pukara extra virgin olive oil, lemon and parsley; and roasted Hiramasa kingfish and Balmain bug with black garlic, sea blite and shellfish sauce. Tickets just $45 per person, bookings essential by phoning 4916 4600.

On August 26 at The Greenhouse, Pacific Dunes, head chef Ben Leslie will be plating up, among other things, the first Huon’s yellowtail kingfish to be sustainably farmed in the wild waters of Port Stephens. Wharf Restaurant is hosting a Trawler to Table event on August 19, and The Galley Kitchen at The Anchorage Port Stephens on August 25. To reserve your seat at the Love Seafood Signature Series lunches and dinners go online to portstephens.org.au/trawlertotable.

Classy coffee

The girls from The Bearded Cactus are back (in black) and can be found at Roost, George Tavern Greenhills car park, Monday to Friday from 6am to 1.30pm. 

Maccoa opens

James Estate is holding a wine dinner at Terrigal’s newest restaurant, Maccoa. Located at The Clan, it boasts 180-degree views across Terrigal Lagoon all the way to the Skillion. The menu has been created by group executive chef Melissa Dixon and changes daily, driven by the best the markets have to offer.

Breakfast at Maccoa, Terrigal.

Breakfast at Maccoa, Terrigal.

The five-course, wine-paired James Estate Wine Dinner is at Maccoa on Friday, August 18. Tickets cost $95 per person and are available by emailing bookings@maccoa.com.au or phoning 4385 3855.

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Paul West, host of River Cottage Australia.

Paul West, host of River Cottage Australia.

Sample Food Festival will bring an estimated 17,000 food lovers to the northern NSW village of Bangalow on September 2.

Twenty-six of the region’s best restaurants and caterers will produce $5 and $10 tasting plates inspired by their signature dishes – a fraction of the cost of dining in their well-known venues. The festival is at Bangalow Showground on Saturday, September 2, 8am to 4pm. Tickets at the gate, $5 per adult, children free. Go to samplefoodevents.com for the full program of events. 

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