The 2019 Truffle Melbourne program exceeded all our expectations. The weekend festival at Queen Victoria Market was the largest ever (our sixth year), and the wider program offered over 80 truffle experiences throughout the season including fifteen dinners, and more than sixty truffle hunts with nearly all selling out. In 2019 we attracted even stronger media interest and sponsored support to sustain our program, and even better, we’ve seen a doubling of the fresh truffle harvest at our farm Truffle Paddock.
- As always, our favourite moment is the perfume of the first ripe truffle for the season. This year again it was from Manjimup, WA, followed a week later by some wonderfully aromatic truffles from our own Truffle Paddock farm.
- At the festival weekend, the Truffle Melbourne team became addicted to the Truffle Bar’s Truffle Espresso Martini. Festival Director Nigel Wood has been trying to recreate it ever since at home, with only partial success (but much enjoyment in the experiments!)
- Biting into a truffle Bao at Yu Kitchen's early season dinner, and then the fun at our season opening dinner at Stokehouse were wonderful truffle dining experiences.
- Guests at our Truffle Melbourne hunts are a universally interesting group of people – excited, intrigued, knowledgeable, fascinated - and Nigel Wood can often be heard telling everyone what a pleasure it is to host them.
- There have been some excellent and well- informed media interviews – like this one on BBC News - and Nigel's annual truffle judging stint at the Australian Food Awards, this year with delightful fellow judge Rita Erlich.
The downside for the year was the shorter length of the 2019 fresh truffle season across the country. Just about every growing area in Australia has experienced a shorter season, with a late start and early finish. Overall however, the total national harvest has increased to around fourteen tonnes, with Victorian farms producing about two tonnes.
At the end of the season it was back into the truffle paddock for some serious work – pruning and weeding all 600 trees, and “re-seeding” most trees using the Spanish Wells method – basically putting some truffle spore back into the ground next to each tree. This work is physically harder than hunting for truffles during the season, so a fitness update is required!
Many thanks to everyone that has supported Truffle Melbourne this season – it’s a great pleasure to see the truffle tribe growing so strongly and more and more appreciating this special seasonal ingredient and its beguiling nature!