Truffles

Reporter: Graeme Butler

On a crisp morning in the state's south west you'll find W.A's other great mining boom. This is mining Manjimup style - Ben Blakers and his dog Latte the Labrador are doing the morning rounds for buried treasure, French Truffles and they're worth a fortune.

These unlikely looking black truffles can fetch up to $3000 a kilo - making them the third most expensive food on the planet behind Saffron and Caviar. The reason it's so expensive is because they only grows in a few places on Earth and Ben's dad Al figured out Manjimup might just be one of them.

Truffle farming is something that certainly can't be hurried after planting the hazelnut and oak trees inoculated with the fungi spore it can take up to seven years before the first truffles are harvested. And that's how long Al Blakers had to wait until he knew his great truffle gamble had paid off - he took his truffle sniffing dog to the paddock and hit pay dirt. Within a few years others had joined the truffle party and this year Manjimup expects to produce about 4 tonnes of truffles. That's more than ten million dollars on the retail market. Not bad for a black looking musty smelling fungi's.

Gavin Booth is another Truffle producer in Manjimup - he says the truffles are now exported to markets around the world including France - and that's a bit like selling ice to the eskimos "We've actually become the fourth largest truffle producing nation on earth" Just like rare gems - the truffles are graded according to size, shape and purity.

So what do you do with a truffle? Down at Dingup House in Manjimup chef Peter Elliot is turning out a truffle inspired menu starting with breakfast. "I'm doing scrambled duck eggs and all I'm going to do is just shave some of the truffle over the top, eggs and truffle go really well together" Truffle's aren't' something you eat alone - it's a flavour enhancer and a little goes a long way like with these Yabbies you can't afford overwhelm them. In France Truffles are often used in cream sauces.

This weekend Manjimup is inviting truffle lovers and the just plain curious to share the love of this unlikely local hero at its annual Truffle Kerfuffle.

For more details

www.trufflekerfuffle.com.au