CHRIS UHLMANN: The little gem of the fungus family, the truffle,
could be big business for Australia. A festival in Melbourne this weekend will
stage hunts and feature truffle chefs to showcase the delights of the delicacy.
Some producers hope Australia might rise to become the world's biggest truffle
producer within the decade.
Rachael Brown went to find out what the fuss is all about on the heels of a truffle-hunting dog called Bear.
RACHAEL BROWN: I'm in the picturesque Yarra Valley with Stuart Dunbar from Yarra Valley Truffles and his American bulldog, Bear.
(Question to Stuart Dunbar) You've got a list of what we're looking for today?
STUART DUNBAR: I've got quite a few trees to check today. We go past those and see if Bear reacts to any.
RACHAEL BROWN: He's got a tougher job today, it's a bit wet.
STUART DUNBAR: Yes it makes it hard for both Bear and myself. It washes the aroma back into the soil and we're going to have truffles that smelled divine a few days earlier, and there'll be no discernible aroma after a couple of inches of rain overnight.
RACHAEL BROWN: What is it about the soil out in this part of the world that makes for good truffle growing?
STUART DUNBAR: That's one of the ones that people aren't exactly certain on. There's been quite a few successful truffieres in Victoria and Western Australia. They're in these red volcanic soils, which is by no means the type of soil that they've used traditionally. The natural environment is a limestone-based soil, very, very high PH.
RACHAEL BROWN: Mr Dunbar checks his meticulous notes for those trees expected to yield truffles soon, then sends in the expert.
STUART DUNBAR: Bear, can you check these please?
(Sound of dog sniffing)
RACHAEL BROWN: Bear marks the spot with a heavy paw mark and his master does some careful digging as to not damage the treasure.
It's described to me like music. The early aroma is a top single note, as it ripens it's a more structured chord, then 10 days from the first whiff you have a complex symphony.
STUART DUNBAR: You take one whiff and then you bury your nose beside the truffle and just go, (sniffs) oh, this is it, this is a great truffle.
RACHAEL BROWN: The truffle is checked for maturity and insect damage, then covered over with a mound of earth until it's ready to harvest.
It was love at first taste for Mr Dunbar and his planting of English and Evergreen oaks and Hazelnut trees could be yielding up to 10 kilos of truffles by 2016.
(Question to Stuart Dunbar) What's the biggest one you've found?
STUART DUNBAR: A 700 gram beauty, down towards the bottom of the truffiere.
RACHAEL BROWN: A big one, 1.17 kilogram one, was found.
STUART DUNBAR: Up in New South Wales. That's an absolute beauty. I'm just wondering how long it'll take me to beat that record. I believe it was sold for two and a half thousand dollars to a local restaurant.
RACHAEL BROWN: How do you prefer to eat them?
STUART DUNBAR: That sous vide style where it's absolute melt in the mouth-type chicken and then the truffle all the way through. I'm salivating now thinking about it.
RACHAEL BROWN: You're making me hungry.
It's become quite a staple in European fare but do you think the truffle has had its culinary coming of age here in Australia yet?
STUART DUNBAR: Not yet. I think it's imminent. I've noticed there's been a real groundswell in the awareness of truffle.
When I first started finding my ripe truffles, if you talked to people about truffle they'd say, "oh what, the chocolates?" Now maybe two in 10 is, "Yes, I've tried a truffle, it's lovely."
Australia does have the vast majority of the world's truffles.
RACHAEL BROWN: Hence there's so much untapped potential, says producer Nigel Wood, who's directing the Truffle Melbourne Festival this weekend.
NIGEL WOOD: We're number four currently after France, Italy and Spain in the production of truffles but we're catching up pretty fast. Production's increasing by 20 or 25 per cent every year. It is even possible that Australia could be a number one truffle producer within the decade I think.
RACHAEL BROWN: It's a little safer here too than in Europe where some farmers can have their fingers bitten off by overzealous truffle hunting pigs.
NIGEL WOOD: (Laughs) You bet, yes.
RACHAEL BROWN: How often does that happen?
NIGEL WOOD: I don't need to sit in my stone hut overnight with my loaded shotgun for fear of people jumping over the fence and coming and pinching my truffles just yet, but the day may come, the day may come.
CHRIS UHLMANN: A frightening day indeed. Festival director of Truffle Melbourne, Nigel Wood, speaking with Rachael Brown.
虽然松露的种植并不容易，必须使用孢子与其他可形成共生关系的正常的活树来繁育，这使得历史上有许多失败的尝试。但1808年，法国阿普特市的Joseph Talon把松露橡树周围散落的橡实种植下去，若干年后，在新生长出的橡树根部的泥土中果然发现了松露。1847年，法国卡庞特拉市的Auguste Rousseau用这种橡实种植了7公顷的橡树林，收获了大量松露，他也因此获得1855年世界博览会奖章。法国南部有富含石灰岩的土壤和干热的气候，适合松露生长，而19世纪末期流行病摧毁了当地的葡萄种植业和蚕丝业，于是大片的土地被用来种植松露，产量在19世纪末达到上百吨。1890年，松露树的种植面积达到了75000公顷。