The last few days have been just lovely. I had an early rise on Friday morning so that I could take a train to Melbourne. It wasn’t the warmest of trips, but when I arrived in Melbourne I headed straight to the Queen Victoria Markets where I had arranged to meet my wonderful friend, Ora. Before we met up I had been trying to buy duck necks and duck bones with no success, so gave up and headed to my favourite bakery to pick up, what I believe is the best gluten free Turkish bread you can get. Just as I was finishing my purchases. Ora phoned to see where I was. I looked down the walkway a little and there she was, as usual, bright and colourful. When we met we embraced and chatted a little, and she wanted to know what I needed to get next. When I told her about the duck neck and bones, she took me to the stall where she and her husband buy their poultry and game. It was fantastic! I got my duck carcasses, duck necks with skin on, duck breasts, duck thighs and quail. On hearing what I wanted to do with the duck necks, the gentleman ensured that the necks had the skin on and also gave me his card suggesting that I phone ahead with my order whenever I am coming to town, and they will make sure that they have everything that I need. I was delighted.
From the poultry stall we headed to a stall I knew very well. It is where I head when I need mushrooms, and when they are in season, that amazing black funghi that grows underground among the roots of oak and hazelnut trees. I was so lucky, they had just received fresh truffles this morning, yesterday there were none. How lucky am I! I select three lovely black delights and they are carefully wrapped in tissue and placed in a glass jar that I place in my handbag for safekeeping. We chat a little about what I will do with three truffles, and I tell the lady that I will use some fresh, the remainder will be frozen for use at a later date. Truffles, do not last long and go soft, so the best thing to do with unused truffles, is to freeze them whole in a container and then, using your trusty truffle slicer, slice them while they are still frozen. You should not thaw them out before using them. Just shave them directly into the dish that you are cooking. She was very interested in what I was going to do.
Something that I like to do, is place truffles in a jar with Arborio rice for a couple of days, the rice then takes on the delicious aroma of the truffle ready for making mushroom risotto with shaved truffle.
The other thing I do is place some eggs in a jar with whole truffle. With the shell being porous, the yolk and white are infused with that sensational flavour. Making the eggs perfect for making delicious omelettes or scrambled eggs.
When we leave the market, Ora insists on carrying one of my bags. I am going to a “Christmas in July” function with friends/colleagues at my previous place of employment and have baked a gluten free fig and onion relish, blue cheese and pear tart, as well as a gluten free rhubarb swirl yoghurt cheesecake topped with mulled wine and pear jelly, cream and toasted coconut. So my bags are heavy and I feel very guilty that she is carrying one of them for me. We stop off for a most welcome cup of tea at one of her favourite cafés near the market and have a lovely long chat before she very kindly drives me to my old work place, which is where we met and formed such a great friendship.
I spent a lovely afternoon eating beautiful food and catching up with past colleagues and great friends, before my husband came to collect me and we headed to our son’s apartment where we would spend a wonderful night with he, his fiancée and our gorgeous little grandson. Our son prepared a delicious meal of salmon and noodles.
His fiancée had everything lovely for us and made us so welcome, and our adorable little grandson kept us well amused and entertained.
The following day, my husband returned home early, while I got to spend more time with our beautiful family, before returning home. On the way home I spent time listening to my French lesson to pass the time and help me with the learning process.
When I arrived home in the early evening, I set to stashing the goodies that I had purchased at the market the previous day, and then to making a delicious mushroom and black truffle risotto.
I think it was one of the best risottos I’ve ever made. Fortunately just before heading to Melbourne I had made a very large batch of chicken stock so it was put to good use, and I had such a wonderful time preparing the mushrooms, stirring the risotto, and finally adding the pièce de résistance, the beautiful black truffle to the risotto, along with some lovely, slightly thicker slices to the top just before serving.
Until next time…
Mushroom and Black Truffle Risotto
Queen Victoria Market