Approaching the Darlington Estate winery is a romantic experience. As you come up the dark driveway through the avenue of twisted eucalyptus and banksia trees, the twinkle of the lights reflected in the glass walls of the restaurant is just like the glow of fireflies. The lights draw you in, as does the prospect of being indoors. It's winter, and truffle season, and it is cold.
A group of friendly food-bloggers and some patient plus ones. A well-lit table in the corner. And we were off! Nine courses of truffley goodness over the course of 3 hours plus a wine match is a great way to spend a Friday evening.
Amuse bouche: tarts with liver pate and smoked salmon blini
Rich yet delicate, just the way we like it. The liver pate tarts are a buttery wonder topped with bitter chocolate lattice. The blini have crème fraiche and a sweet morsel of cured salmon. I could have kept going just with these but this, of course, was just the beginning...
Celeriac - not the nice green leafy celery that most people know but another variety with an ugly, nobby, root which actually tastes wonderful when it is roasted, mashed, or, in the case of this first course, blitzed into soup form. Any risk of blandness (and I have found that you need to season celeriac well to avoid this) has been removed by the addition of the truffle shavings on the top, and the parmesan tuille adds zing and alkalinity.
This was the first taste of truffle that I'd had since I attended last year's Darlington Estate Truffle Dego. It was a welcome return to the truffle experience.
Beef and beetroot! The stuff of legend (or maybe of burgers?). The juicy pinkness of good meat lifted with the tang of the beetroot slices. The sprouts added a good crunch and the truffle horseradish snow brought it all home. Horseradish is so underrated and never as available as a foodie might like. I’d never thought about combining it with truffle. Now I’m not sure if I will ever manage to think of it without.