Truffle trouble

By Rhonda Dredge

Troubles rather than truffles were being shared at the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) on the weekend of June 19 and 20 as Melburnians took advantage of the lifting of the travel ban to catch up.

Like many events across the city, the Truffle Festival was postponed because of COVID but the courtyard was still sunny. Those who came for truffles, though, were disappointed. At 11.30am truffle dogs were meant to be giving demonstrations in one of the sheds but the festival had been postponed until July 10 and 11. 

The festival was cancelled the week before it was due to start because of “mass cancellations”, one stallholder told CBD News. 

Fiona Macali at The Epicurean said it was “really hard. We were all ready to go then the lockdown.”

She said a small tour went ahead on the Saturday. Forty people were expected but “in the end there were four. Then they signed up another four. There were eight on the tour.”

She said people were intrigued by the truffle because of “the flavour, the smell and the look of it”.

She stocks truffles from Western Australia, selling at $2295 a kilo. She orders them on a Monday, they’re dug out of the ground on a Tuesday and airfreighted across so they’re available at the market on a Friday. They last for a week. She said that a lot of preparation and planning is required for a truffle dinner. Some people make their own pasta as well.

“I’m glad the festival isn’t cancelled but pushed out,” she said. “It’s going to be a longer season.” 

She said interest in the truffle had increased as they had become more available •

“It’s still a specialty item but over the past two to three years we’ve had a supply.”

On the bright side, the Vic Market was booming. “We were meant to meet at South Melbourne Market but it’s a hot spot so we came here,” Athena said. 

Caption: Fiona Macali with fresh truffles at The Epicurean.

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