We enjoyed ourselves so much this time last year at Tarago Truffles Blessing of the Truffle Dogs that we were counting the months, weeks and then finally days to this year’s Blessing. Ominously the weather forecast for the ceremony predicted 20-40ml of rain but Bishop Tom Frame clearly had a hand in controlling the elements and the rain miraculously held off until after the Blessing and even the Hunt. It was when we were warm and safe under the marquee quaffing wine from Lerida Estate – an extremely drinkable pinot in my case – and merrily eating food prepared by Andrew Haskins from 3seeds the downpour struck. But backpedaling ….
This was Anne and Denzil’s fifth year holding their Blessing of the Truffle Dogs which I believe began with the dual purpose of helping to raise money for St Andrew’s Anglican Church at Tarago and as a celebration for the start of the truffle season. This year’s Blessing, conducted by Bishop Tom Frame, was vociferously accompanied by enthusiastic hounds (quoting Rev Tom, “I call them the unofficial choir really because they set each other off”) and over 100 luckily less chatty citizens. The audience was made up from a mixture of fellow truffle growers, local parishioners and for the first time, an inaugural ticketed event with the Canberra Truffle Festival https://www.trufflefestival.com.au/.
Which takes me off on a tangent (and if you’ve read my other blogs you won’t be surprised) But what an interesting man! Apparently answering equally to Bishop Tom, Rev Tom, and Dr Tom, Bishop Tom is – in no particular order – a cattle farmer, author, historian, professor, past Bishop of the Armed Forces and now Honorary Priest in Charge of the Mulwaree Anglican Mission District. He has written/edited over 25 books including The Life and Death of Harold Holt. But back to the Blessing, Rev Tom conducted the brief ceremony reminding us that animals are part of the creative order and are valuable. It is our duty to appreciate, be thankful and care for them. You have to like a man who likes animals!
After the ceremony, we set off for the truffle hunt where I was struck by the various hunting styles the truffle dogs had – one pair took off at huge speed and tore down the rows until you were certain they couldn’t possibly be actually working only to both pull up dead in front of their simultaneously chosen tree. Others meandered along with varying paces and intent but all dogs were engaged and enthusiastic. Much like the people following!
Coming full circle and back to quaffing in the marquee, a 40g truffle was auctioned off for charity and bought by Alex Olsson of Olsson’s Salts who had been valiantly and endlessly making hot chocolate for the children and the pretend children – in my defence it was a hot chocolate kind of day – amongst us. I also have to mention before I go, the delicious food from 3seeds … a perfect weather appropriate warming cauliflower soup with crostini and truffle butter, an unctuous puff pastry parcel filled with Portobello mushroom, truffled brie and greens and finally a sticky fig pudding with an inspired truffled butterscotch sauce.
And FINALLY, thank you so much Anne and Denzil for another truly memorable Blessing. May fortune and St Antoine, the patron saint of truffles, smile on us for another season!