July 1st, 2024

Lick your lips, we’re going a little truffle crazy at Esther this season. This tasty delicacy is kissing our menus throughout the winter months, so we’re delving a little deeper and unearthing the mysteries of the treasured truffle…

Here for a good time not a long time.
Turn your nose to the wonderfully erotic scent of the decadent truffle – one of nature’s most sought after luxuries. The underground equivalent of mushrooms that pop-up around trees in autumn, with a heady brew of chemicals that gives them their powerful aroma and charming flavour. Fresh truffles transform food and intensify the flavours of surrounding ingredients, commanding high prices due to their rarity and short season (June–August). The New Zealand grown Périgord black truffle sells for around $3500, with trees taking up to 20 years to produce just one.

X marks the spot. 
New Zealand is one of the lucky lands in which the truffle can be found. Only introduced in Australia and New Zealand within the last 20 to 30 years, Italy and France have been lucky enough to have had these as part of their recipes for centuries. Esther sources Black Périgord truffles from Wayne & Alison Tewnion at Tewnion Truffière in Canterbury, and George’s Truffle from Riwaka. This year’s truffles are cause for celebration, no matter the time of day.

What do we do with the goods?

We’ve waited in anticipation for this funky fungi to be brought into the kitchen at Esther, with an extensive menu selection on offer designed by chef Sean Connolly. We talked to the man himself about this year’s menus and his long love affair with truffles. “A lot of these dishes represent the history of my cooking. Four decades of cooking, they come with a lot of authenticity and a lot of thought. They are about tradition not fashion. Enhancing the flavours of food and enhancing the flavour profile of truffles.

Dishes like the truffle fonduta, were inspired by a wild trip travelling in a Fiat around Northern Italy with the ‘Godfather of Italian Cooking’ Antonio Carluccio. Sean tells tales of attending a white truffle festival in Italy, where he met with eccentric truffle hunters; eating his body weight in truffles, from lunch to evening and observing an award-winning truffle a big as your head. Timeless classics feature on Sean’s menus time again, like the textures of mushroom dish with quail egg blanketed in gold leaf, porcini soup and Périgord truffle. “Think of it as my best – of album, these dishes would be the top ten”.

One before you go.
Truffle farms are now using dogs to sniff out the truffles instead of the traditional use of pigs, whose motto was more along the lines of ‘one for you, one for me’.

It’s no wonder our chefs are in exceptionally delicious spirits this time of the year. Come see it, smell it, taste it at Esther during truffle season. From 6 course lunch menus, to shaved truffle on your eggs and fries, you’ll understand why this elusive delicacy is on the tip of everyone’s lips.

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