Truffle harvest newsletter #3 (July 2013)

Winter so far: We’ve been busy over the last few weeks, finding truffles and despatching them to satisfied customers. Rosie the trufflehound’s fame has been spreading, thanks to a lovely photoessay at POD Gardening by Paul Thompson which records our discovery back in April of the largest Burgundy truffle yet harvested in New Zealand – all 533g of it.

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Homeward bound, truffle in hand…

The weather’s been oscillating between snowy cold and unseasonal warmth, but seems to have settled into the latter for the last week or so. It’ll soon be time to get stuck in to pruning vineyard and trees (500+), not to mention the 100+ roses in the garden.

Bianchetto truffles: Our bianchetto harvest has been going well, and our truffles have featured on menus at Saggio di Vino, Edesia, and Chillingworth Road in Christchurch, at Roots in Lyttleton and Chantellini’s in Hanmer. We’ll be at the Waipara Valley Farmer’s Market tomorrow morning with a couple of hundred grammes of good bianchetto to sell – part of the market’s welcome to the 80+ chefs attending the NZ Chefs Association conference in Christchurch this weekend. On Saturday afternoon we’ll be welcoming the chefs to Limestone Hills for a truffle tour and a chance to see Rosie in action. Might be a bit crowded down on the front paddock…

Burgundy truffles: One of our Burgundy truffles starred in a photo shoot for NZ Life & Leisure magazine recently. We supplied a nice 150g Burgundy and a few good bianchetto to Tania Lawrence at the Mud Brick Lodge in the Rai Valley. Tania worked with Anna Tait-Jamieson to create some wonderful truffle dishes. I’ll be keeping an eye open for the feature to appear. Apparently Anna’s truffle pizza was something rather special…

Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the winter flush of Burgundy truffles to ripen. Rosie is indicating on a few, but I can’t smell any aroma yet and the ones we have dug up have not been ripe. They should mature over the next month, so keep an eye on Gareth’s tweets and the Limestone Hills Facebook page for up-to-date news.

Périgord black truffles: I’ve been disappointed with the Perigord harvest so far this winter — only a few truffles, and not large ones. Rosie’s checking the trees twice a week at the moment, and there should be some more to come during August. We will do our best to fulfil our existing orders, but if you are super keen to get hold of a ripe melanosporum, Gareth may be able to put you in touch with a grower who can help.

Truffle tours: If you’d like a totally unbiased report by friends of ours on a truffle tour at Limestone Hills, take a look at the new Dry Paddocks blog by Gillian Hyndman. As usual, Rosie was the star.

Olive oil: Fourteen years after the publication of Gareth’s book on olive growing (The Olive Book, Canterbury University Press, 1999 – out of print, sadly, but available in most libraries), we have finally made our own olive oil.

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Olio nuovo, July 2013

Pressed from a mix of koroneiki, leccino and frantoio fruit, it’s fruity and fresh, with a peppery finish. We’re rather pleased, it has to be said. The oil is not commercially available, but we are making plans for next year. Watch this space…

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