A Person Cutting A Piece Of Food

Talking Truffles


Destination 5 minute read

Western Australia’s truffle season is here — an exciting time at COMO The Treasury, when our season-led menus showcase dishes that embrace the best of this rare delicacy. Here, Han Goh, Sous Chef at Wildflower, breaks down what makes a good truffle — the growing, the harvesting, and most importantly, the eating.

Western Australia’s truffle season typically spans the winter months, between June and August. The region is internationally recognised for the quality of its Périgord black truffles, which rival Europe’s top producers. The areas surrounding Perth are particularly truffle-rich, especially in the Southern Forests around Pemberton and Manjimup. That’s where we source our truffles — from Manjimup — where the ‘terroir’ or environmental factors are perfect for truffles. That means fertile, well-drained soil, cool wet winters and warm dry summers, just as in France’s truffle-producing regions.

Tall Trees In A Forest
A Plate Of Chocolate

Growing a truffle is an intricate business: although they’ve been consumed for centuries, it’s only in the last sixty-odd years that attention has been focused on the particular conditions in which they grow best. Truffle-growing is a slow, sustainable business, keeping pace with the composition of the land and the pace of each year’s seasons. In Western Australia, oak and hazelnut trees are inoculated with spores from mature truffles, then planted into special orchards. Truffles begin to grow underground five to seven years after planting, expanding in symbiosis with the trees’ roots. The maturation process takes eight months, through summer and early autumn, until the truffles are ready for harvesting in the winter. It’s at this point that I get excited.

Using trained dogs — often labradors or spaniels — the truffle producer will set off into their orchard, the dogs moving quickly between trees, sniffing out ripe truffles. When they detect the scent, the dogs will signal by pawing or digging lightly at the ground. The handler will then dig carefully around the area with a small trowel to uncover the truffle without damaging it, before inspecting it for quality.

A good black truffle will smell earthy and robust, with faintly sweet notes. It will normally be round or slightly lobed, though they also grow in irregular shapes. The skin should be dark brown to black and relatively smooth, with fine, pyramid-shaped bumps. When cut open, a rich, marbled pattern of black and white veins should appear. They’re then packed up carefully and driven directly to Perth— the fresher the truffle, the better it will taste in my dishes.

Through the winter months, you’ll find several dishes that incorporate black truffles at COMO The Treasury. They’re versatile, and can be enjoyed in simple dishes such as pastas or risottos, which will emphasise the strength of flavour — such as at Post, where wild mushroom and pork sausage rigatoni is served with La Delizia Stracciatella, porcini powder and Manjimup truffle.

A Bowl Of Food And A Glass Of Wine On A Table
A Plate Of Food And A Glass Of Wine

The Manjimup truffles are the star of the show

A Plate Of Food
A Person Holding A Spoon Over A Bowl Of Food

But truffles can also be used in more intricate sauces and combinations, which capitalise on the umami richness to deliver an even more complex flavour profile. At COMO The Treasury’s rooftop restaurant, Wildflower, I pair roasted mushrooms with Manjimup truffles, chestnuts, sunchoke and wattleseeds harvested from Australian acacias. The mushrooms vary depending on what we’ve sourced that day; it’s often a combination of lion’s mane, shimeji, pink oyster mushrooms. I sauté the mushrooms and truffles together with earthy sunchokes in a wattleseed butter, which adds subtle notes of coffee and sesame. I then roast chestnuts with port and top the whole dish with a creamy chestnut and Parmesan foam. The Manjimup truffles are the star of the show; as another part of the fungi kingdom, they pair naturally with the mushrooms, and their aroma adds a decadent edge. The result is a warm and wintry dish with real depth — and one of my all-time favourites on the Wildflower menu.

At COMO The Treasury, we source our black truffles from Coomer, a small family-owned truffle orchard in Manjimup. To find out more about our menus, or to arrange a tour of the truffle orchard, speak to our concierge.