A few weeks ago we were invited to dinner at a friends country property in the southern tablelands of NSW; being about a two-hour drive from our home in Sydney, we were also invited to stay the night. Now, this property is not just your average rural country property used for weekends away from the city, it has a little bit of added magic… this is a truffle farm. And this truffle farm, although still in its early stages, is already producing a small amount of delicious truffles. I can’t tell you the exact amount of truffles found, as truffle growers seem to be very secretive about their haul; but what I can tell you, is the climate is ideally suited for the production of truffles with harsh hot summers and frosty winters. Believe me it was incredibly cold and windy the winter weekend we were there, not that it worried us as we love cold weather! Hopefully in the next few years, this farm will be supplying the tables of restaurants and private homes with high quality aromatic, mouth-watering truffles.
And before I forget, the dinner, the wine, and the company were all fabulous.
Now for those who are interested…
The farm is 100 acres and the trees have been planted in two stages. In May 2010, stage one, a total of 245 trees were planted. Consisting of 39 Robur Oak, 39 Ilex Oak and 167 Hazelnut trees. Stage two, consisting of a total of 613 trees, was planted in September 2012, and was made up of 104 Robur Oak, 98 Ilex Oak and 411 Hazelnut trees. The total number of trees is currently 858, but not all of these trees are expected to survive. Over the years there will be a gradual thinning out of the trees, the strongest will survive, the weakest won’t.
The property is also home to two beehives. When in full production, each hive has one queen and approximately 40,000 bees. These were installed in September 2013. Already, honey has been gathered from the hives twice, producing about 15-18kgs each time. We were given a large jar to take home, which was absolutely delicious. And below is a very simple recipe using the fragrant nectar in a goats curd, pear, caramelised walnut and ‘Ganymede honey’ tartine.
This recipe really doesn’t need exact quantities and if you don’t feel like making the caramelised walnuts, just toast them briefly in a hot oven to enrich their flavour.
Firstly you will need to toast some slices of good sourdough bread, then top them with as much lovely soft goats curd as you desire, a few slices of crisp pear, drizzle with a little walnut oil and then with some fragrant honey over the top. Scatter over a few caramelised walnuts a little freshly ground pepper and sea salt flakes to season. Enjoy!
- 50gm (1/2) cup walnuts
- 1.5tbsp icing sugar
- Sunflower for shallow frying
- Sea salt flakes
- Pinch cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
Cook walnuts in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain, and pat dry on kitchen paper. Place walnuts and icing sugar in a bowl and toss well to coat. Heat 1cm oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add walnuts and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden. Drain on kitchen paper and while warm scatter with sea salt flakes and cayenne pepper or smoked paprika.