Known as ‘the diamonds of the kitchen’, truffles occupy a place on the podium among great food delicacies such as fine caviar, saffron and French Champagne. Found in the soil at the base of a hazel or oak tree, by way of a specially trained dog or pig, truffles have been sourced across Europe for centuries and in Australia since 1999.

While their aromatic, earthy flavour is difficult to describe (the Japanese list truffles under the fifth taste sensation, ‘umami’, otherwise known as ‘pleasant savoury taste’), one thing is for certain: they make chefs, restaurateurs and diners go wild, albeit for a price. Only available for a few months each year, Australian truffles are predominately produced in Western Australia, which is responsible for almost 80 per cent of all truffles grown nationally. To celebrate the season, each year Madame Truffles – founded by Simon McCrudden and Bernadette Jenner – sets up a six-week pop-up shop to sell these delicacies to the public. The theme of Madame Truffles’ shop this year is ‘magical forest’ and it will be located in South Melbourne, next door to St ALi. We suggest you stop by and then head on over to the South Melbourne Markets to collect the remaining ingredients for your truffle feast.

While often perceived to be the preserve of fine dining, one of the best ways to enjoy truffles is a simple one, says McCrudden: the humble cheese toastie.

This year Madame Truffles has partnered with cafes including St ALi, The Premises, Cheerio and newcomer Guerilla Espresso to serve up the Madame Truffles toastie to curious customers.

Each cafe will give the toastie its own spin, but you can find the classic recipe below.

Truffle Cheese Toastie

What you’ll need:
Sourdough bread
Gruyere cheese
Generous amounts of shaved black truffle
Unsalted French butter (or Pepe Saya butter)
Pepper and sea salt
Something nice to drink with it

Method:
1. Slice your bread and spread with a generous amount of butter on one side.
2. Grate the cheese, place on unbuttered side of bread and season with pepper and sea salt.
3. Add some shaved truffle and place your second bread slice on top. Toast until golden using a cast iron skillet over a medium heat.
4. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with your drink – French farmhouse cider or a glass of bubbles are best.

Madame Truffles Pop-Up Shop
20 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Open Thursday to Saturday from July 4 to August 10.

Hours
Thurs & Fri 9am–5pm
Sat 9am–3pm

Truffles will also be available for sale via the Madame Truffles website:
www.madametruffles.com.au