Canberra with kids: Everybody’s truffling

The kids at Terra PetraMr Eats World and I have a thing for subterranean fungi. So much so that back in the day, and struggling with infertility, we compensated for our lack of offspring with a lot of fine dining and many freshly shaved truffles. Indeed, it was over a truffle-laden degustation dinner at Claude’s that we made Raffles, so to speak.

You see, it took an army of medical pro’s, a needle habit to rival the most dedicated junkie, a petri dish, much swearing and huge wads of filthy lucre for us to produce Raffles and Sugarpuff. And on this particular night, in a weird coincidence our wedding night, we were in the midst of a cycle of IVF hell. During our 10 second registry office ceremony (we’d already had a Buddhist ceremony in Thailand so this was a legal technicality) our doc called to inform us that my ovarian hens had laid ahead of schedule and it was time for the final trigger. At 11pm. On the dot.

For those of you sensible folk who create your children the standard way, Trigger, as well as being Roy Rogers’s horse, is the final step in the baby battery farming process. It’s the injection that releases the eggs and – requiring as it does the mixing of liquid with powder, a large syringe and self injection – it isn’t really the kind of thing one does in a three-hat restaurant. Unless you’re us.

We weren’t missing dinner! So we packed Trigger in an esky bag (just in case) and stuffed our faces at speed in an attempt to be home by 11pm.

Having explained the urgency to the supportive wait staff we were nine courses down by 10.30 whilst other patrons leisurely chewed on course five and watched us like we were gluttonous Olympians. At 10.35 a waiter valiantly leapt head first into Oxford Street traffic to hail a cab. At 10.52 we raced (well, waddled as we were stuffed with several tonnes of freshly shaved truffle) through the door, ready to take the plunge with that big scary needle in the comfort of our living room and, thankfully, not the toilet of a salubrious restaurant.

Funnily enough, when we met our tiny embryo for the first time a few days later we thought he looked exactly like a slice of Perigord truffle. And for the next nine-months the divine group of expanding cells that would become Raffles was simply known as The Truffle.

So, on a sunny winter Saturday five years later, we aren’t all that surprised to see our wee whack-job on all fours, bum to the breeze, sniffing intently around the roots of a hazelnut tree.

my little truffle pig sniffing for truffles

It turns out that the truffle-infused Raffles is as enamoured with his gestational namesake as we are.

Pretending be a truffle dogWe’re visiting Canberra for some family fun and have found ourselves at Terra Preta Truffles with our BYO truffle pig to celebrate the Canberra Truffle Festival with a truffle hunt. It’s Bastille day eve so the perfect timing for hunting the delicious French Black Truffles that hide in the earth around us.

We’re greeted at the truffiere by the spectacular sight of an enormous slab of brie layered with wads of the prized black truffles.

Brie spiked with truffles

We devour it greedily around a campfire-pit while Raffles is briefed by Kate & Peter, Terra Preta’s lovely trufflieres that there are dogs to do the sniffing and he can stick to the bi-pedal thing.

Dogs have almost entirely replaced pigs as truffle-hunters in modern times. Not only are pigs harder to train and tend to scoff their finds, it is alleged that the scent of the truffle make pigs a little frisky as it mimics that of a pig-in-heat. I’m pleased to meet the hounds because just personally, I prefer my truffles unmolested.

by the fire at Terra Petra

Before we enter the hazelnut grove we’ll need to walk through a lime tray (part of a biosecurity boot process in place to prevent contamination of the patch from foreign dirt) and we’re told not to make eye contact or interact with the dogs. Raffles is so excited at the prospect of the gastronomical treasure hunt he leaps into the lime tray and breaks into a wild dance.

As the hunt begins we keep our overexcited offspring a respectful distance as super truffle dog, Sal, a lovely Labrador Kelpie cross, and her young apprentice, Shadow, a Labrador Dachshund cross that resembles a mutant fur seal, sniff with doggy determination between the rows of hazelnut trees.

It takes no more than a minute before they’re patting at the ground enthusiastically.

Trufflier Kate beckons Raffles to join her and the hounds, handing him a trowel to dig up the first beautiful French black truffle of the day.

Raffles digging for truffles at Terra Petra

An unmistakable aroma fills the air as it comes up out of the ground and Mr Eats World and I swoon.

Truffles at Terra Petra

Raffles is so thrilled at the sight of the enormous potato shaped fungus that, if he were any other child, you’d think he’d dug up solid chocolate. But when it comes to food, Raffles is no ordinary kid and he’s already making cunning plans for the fragrant beauty, including the creation of a truffle saucisson and truffle roasted chook.

Black truffle at Terra Petra

Over the next hour we all take our turn to dig up a truffle or two from the earth.

Hazelnut trees at Terra Petra

Except for Sugarpuff who is as happy hot-wiring a nearby tractor and filling her pockets with fallen hazelnuts that she dubs “fuffles”.

Sugarpuff hot-wiring a buggy at Terra Petra

A bucket full of the real thing later and it’s time for the talented truffle hounds to be rewarded with cuddles from their adoring fans.

cuddle time with the truffle pups

Finally allowed to have her way with the perky pups, Sugarpuff covers them in a hail of kisses and cuddles, which they return with doggy fervour. For her it’s the highlight of the day, and quite possibly her life. For Raffles, it’s digging for buried treasure. For Mr Eats World and I, it’s an amazing lunch of soup, scallop pies and ice cream all spiked with wads of truffles.

Scallope & Truffle Pie at Terrra Petra

Seriously, truffle ice-cream! And it’s genius!

truffle ice-cream

Hot spiced apple juice and truffle-studded marshmallows roasted on sticks over an open fire end a perfectly delicious day.

toasting marshmallows at terra petra

But it’s not over. Wrapped with as much care as a newborn, one of those truffles is coming home with us.

This one's coming home with me

And, like Raffles and Sugarpuff before it, this little truffle too will end up residing in my belly for a time, only this time we won’t need a specialist to get it there.

25 Comments on Canberra with kids: Everybody’s truffling

  1. laurasmess
    July 22, 2013 at 9:41 am (7 years ago)

    You are such a brilliant writer Aleney. I always feel like I’m going on a vivid journey with you when I read your posts. I’ve never seen IVF described in such blunt terms! You are completely right though… there’s nothing romantic about harvesting eggs to fertilise in a petri dish. I am so, so glad that you and Mr BEW had success with the process. I’ve got a couple of friends who have tried for years without making a little truffle. It’s heartbreaking. Your Sugarpuff and Raffleman are amazing little people; complete evidence of their parents’ passion and love. Huge admiration for Raffles’ love of truffles. I couldn’t stand the aroma when I was younger… he’s pretty advanced! Thanks for sharing the festival notes and your ‘family beginnings’ with us. P.S I want some of that brie!!!

    Reply
  2. BOYEATSWORLD
    July 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm (7 years ago)

    Aww thanks, Laura. I always tried to handle the IVF years with 2 parts humour to 1 part brutal honesty. When I look at the two gorgeous rewards I have, I’m very grateful but there’s no point romanticising the way we got ’em! x

    Reply
  3. Jas@AbsolutelyJas
    July 23, 2013 at 11:21 am (7 years ago)

    Oh my goodness, that Brie! So amazing that your little one not only knows what truffles are, but likes that pungent smell! Sounds like you are raising yourself a future masterchef 😉

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      July 23, 2013 at 6:46 pm (7 years ago)

      I think it’s more likely he’ll grow up to be a food critic! 😉

      Reply
  4. cquek
    July 23, 2013 at 9:50 pm (7 years ago)

    the kids are beautiful, they are having a good time.

    Reply
  5. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    July 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm (7 years ago)

    Aww and Raff is even more precious than a truffle! Such an interesting story about your journey with IVF 🙂

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      July 31, 2013 at 10:14 am (7 years ago)

      Thanks Lorraine. He is pretty special 🙂

      Reply
  6. Go Camping Australia
    July 26, 2013 at 9:54 am (7 years ago)

    I don’t know if I would know a truffle if I dug one up – it would look like a big clump of earth to me! Love to go and try this though.

    Reply
  7. lybliss
    July 26, 2013 at 10:43 am (7 years ago)

    Fantastic story! And as a fellow needle junkie with more experience than I care to remember of swollen ovaries and trigger injections, I think you’ve completely nailed that whole scenario. Love that little Raffles loves truffles- full circle xxx

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      July 31, 2013 at 10:15 am (7 years ago)

      Thank you. Means a lot coming from a fellow baby battery farmer 🙂 x

      Reply
  8. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen
    July 26, 2013 at 5:46 pm (7 years ago)

    I love Raffles’ passion about his food!! That food sounds glorious too 🙂

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      July 31, 2013 at 10:11 am (7 years ago)

      Eating is his first love, Lisa. And. in a world full of eating disorders, I can’t help but encourage him. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Anne ~ Uni Homemaker
    July 27, 2013 at 4:05 pm (7 years ago)

    Love Brie and truffles –sounds heavenly! But a truffle festival? Wow!

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      July 31, 2013 at 10:10 am (7 years ago)

      It’s all kinds of awesome!

      Reply
  10. MrsD
    July 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm (7 years ago)

    I can’t say I share your enthusiasm on the truffles but I just LOVE the way you write!!

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      July 31, 2013 at 10:10 am (7 years ago)

      Aww thanks, honey. That’s so nice to hear x

      Reply
  11. Amanda @ Cooker and a Looker
    July 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm (7 years ago)

    Sounds fabulous and I’m so pleased that your truffle story has two happy endings!
    PS. I’m still swooning over that brie photo.

    Reply
    • BOYEATSWORLD
      July 31, 2013 at 10:09 am (7 years ago)

      It was fabulous Amanda! And totally swoon worthy 🙂

      Reply
  12. Kim
    August 6, 2013 at 4:59 pm (7 years ago)

    WOW that brie has me salivating over my keyboard. Your little truffle pigdog is the cutest little hunter that ever was, and I’m in awe of the incredible way you’ve described his degustatingly intense conception.

    Reply
  13. lizzygoodthings
    August 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm (7 years ago)

    Love it!

    Reply
  14. inthetaratory
    August 12, 2013 at 11:54 pm (7 years ago)

    Fabulous post! Loved the IVF story, too!

    Reply

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                                                                                           Hey,  I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s culture and cuisine on a junior food safari.

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