Black Gold


The first truffles of the Australian season are now appearing on menus in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth, and with a bumper 2007 crop predicted after a watershed 2006 harvest, there’s a strong chance you’ll be seeing them in Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and the U.S. The first fruits of the fledgling Australian truffle industry were dug up in Tasmania in 1999, but though they’re now being cultivated everywhere cold enough, it’s been the area surrounding Western Australia’s tiny township of Manjimup that has been producing the bulk of the haul. These Australian truffles, like those grown by the Wine and Truffle Company, are the same species as the European kind and have been given the thumbs-up by all sorts of authorities, including Alain Ducasse. The consensus is they’re every bit the equal of those you’d find in Périgord. Boon that it may be for local chefs and diners, the growers have their eye on the Northern Hemisphere, where the idea of fresh black truffles in the middle of summer is already setting tongues—and wallets—flapping.

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