Storytellers Tuesday 17th September “The Art of Truffling”

It was a rotten old night due to heavy rain and wind, however, the hardy BBC members, resilient as ever, ensured that there was a decent attendance at Storytellers to listen to another diverse subject, namely ‘The Art of Truffling”. Member Mike Katz and his wife Frederique shared their experiences of planting a trufferie and the delights which come from owning a truffle dog, Tibor.

Mike took us on a fascinating introduction to truffles, explaining what exactly truffles are, Mike & Frederique’s journey into the world of truffles, comparing dogs v pigs to find them and finishing off with a demonstration. He told us about the White Truffle, found in Italy, and now being attempted in WA. We learnt about the Black Truffle along with Summer, Autumn, Winter and Chinese Truffles. The Winter Truffle is regarded as the most powerful of the dark truffles and found in many parts of the world, Périgord in France but also Italy, Spain and now Australia.

As we listened to Mike’s story it was very evident that there was a lot of hard work, expense and time invested in attempting to produce truffles. One needed to try and find the most suitable land, not always the best soil, establish an irrigation system, get the right PH balance, fence the site, plant the inoculated seedlings, wait and pray!
Key success factors being:

  • Soil – PH, Friable, limestone is ideal.
  • Water
  • Temperature – at least 20 days a year < 0
  • Properly inoculated seed stock-Oak, Hazelnut
  • Time, Talent, Tenacity
  • A good dog -Tibor in their case

For their part Mike & Frederique happened across ‘Truffling’ after a chance read of the Delicious Magazine back in 2001. Something struck a chord with them. It was very different and there was of course the associated romance that truffles have along with other high-end luxury goods such as caviar and fine wines. By 2003 they had found their plot of land, west of Goulburn, and built an 8 mega-litre dam, ploughed, balanced the PH and planted a mix of inoculated French Oak, English Oak and Hazelnut trees, 720 in total. They have had success with producing truffles, though certainly not in a commercial volume (as against their Wagyu beef interests). In fact, their trees are 15 years old now, and about 10% of the trees have produced truffles. These trees are marked for reference. So as explained there is plenty of hard work involved. Commercially the going price per kilo of truffle is in the region of $2000 – $3000 ..yes, a luxury indeed!

Mike talked about the difficulty of actual discovering the truffles, as they are found under the soil at the base of the trees, and not evident. It takes the fine senses of pigs and dogs to sniff them out. He showed a great photo of a huge pig, presumably in France, in action, earning its keep. A close-up would probably show the farmer distinguished by a lack of fingers! Mike & Frederique bought a Lagotto breed of dog, Tibor, and took it to be trained as per airport sniffer dogs. Tibor now has perfected the art of discovering truffles, makes no attempt to eat the truffle preferring a well-deserved treat from generally Frederique.

We were treated to a demonstration of Tibor in action after several pieces of truffle were secreted around the room. No problem for Tibor.

Finally, Mike gave a few tips on how to serve truffles:

  • Do not cook
  • Scrape or slice on plain food
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Mashed potato
  • Pasta without pesto
  • Risotto
  • Soup

Many thanks must go to Mike & Frederique and Meredith Aveling for arranging them to share their wonderful story with the BBC. The subject really resonated with the audience evidenced by the large number of questions.

Enquiries to

Storytellers Tuesday 18th June

Click image to enlarge

The next meeting of the Storytellers which will be on Tuesday 18th June commencing at 7:30pm.

The June meeting will be a film night beginning with a short introduction to 3 legendary BBC characters on whom the film Codgers is based, namely George Franki, Bill Arnott & Mike Guina.

The film tells the story of five senior Aussie men, four of them mates since war service, meet one morning each week in a gymnasium.  They exercise, chew the fat about their families, laugh, tease and sing. Together, they solve the problems of the world…even if they must agree to disagree.

If the weather is good then come for a byo drink, feed and chat beforehand, usually starting at 6pm.
All members and friends are welcome.

Storytellers – ANZAC DAY

In keeping with previous years, the April meeting had an ANZAC DAY theme. Meredith Aveling kindly brought along sprigs of Rosemary to share amongst attendees, and with the A Cappella choir dressed in black & red with poppies the scene was set.

Janet Bagnall accompanied the BBC’s one and only A Cappella choir as they began the evening singing ‘Thank you, Soldiers’ & ‘In Flanders Field’.

Roland Longworth representing the Returned Soldiers with her Majesty the Queen in 1954

Sandy Longworth was our special ‘Storyteller’ for the evening, and had prepared a wonderful PowerPoint presentation with the help of his daughter Emma. The slides comprised some which were taken when Sandy and two of his sons, Hugh and William, took him to Gallipoli about 10 years ago. They covered the Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Cape Helles and Suvla Bay. These were all scenes of action during the Gallipoli offensive. It was a 3-day comprehensive private tour of battle sites led by Kenan Celik AM, Turkish academic from University of Canakkale who has been acknowledged by Australian Department of Veteran affairs.

Sandy spoke about:

  • the Turkey and Ottoman Empire leading up to Gallipoli Campaign
  • the Gallipoli Campaign covering British, Anzacs, French and Turkish involvement accompanied with slides
  • Sandy’s ‘hero’, his father Roley, and some of his stories (he did not speak about it much, as it was very tough, but wrote a few very informative letters which were not subject to censors when he was in hospital in Cairo)
  • his father’s life connected with Military and medicine. Roley’s life in a sense was made by WWI. He remained a devoted ‘Digger’ and was the ‘Diggers’ doctor for both WWI and WWII diggers.

Roly Longworth in the Light Horse 1939

Sandy handed out a transcript of a letter written by his grandmother requesting that her only surviving son, Roland, be granted a discharge (a copy of the original letter is included with photographs at the rear of these Minutes).

The presentation was most informative, and it was obvious that Sandy knew his subject extremely well, with hardly any need to refer to his notes to check dates and names of officers etc. As Sandy confirmed the campaign was a failure but the brilliant part from his perspective was the evacuation. Interestingly enough was how the Turks are just as keen as Australia about remembering Gallipoli. One particular photo of Sandy’s shows a huge monument dug into the escarpment.

It was on the beach at Gallipoli that Sandy reasonably speculates the origin of the expression ’digger’ was applied to ANZAC troops in general. Following the landing at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915 General Sir Ian Hamilton wrote to General William Birdwood, the commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), adding in a postscript: “You have got through the difficult business, now you have only to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe.”
The choir and audience concluded the evening singing several songs familiar to everyone:

  • ‘Lili Marlene’
  • ‘Mademoiselle from Armentieres’
  • ‘Pack-up your troubles’ & ‘A long way to Tipperary’
  • ‘We’ll meet again’
  • ‘I still call Australia home’

A special thanks to Sandy for his well-prepared presentation and to the entertainment from the A Cappella choir led by Janet B (who generously rearranged her social calendar to be present on the evening).

Storytellers – Goes to the Cremorne Orpheum Picture Palace!!

The March Storytellers was something rather unusual. We went to the Cremorne Orpheum Picture Palace!! This was new territory (literally) and we had a full-house of 120 people, a record for the Storytellers!

Activities such as the Storytellers are wonderful opportunities to naturally to listen to some of the great things that our BBC members have been doing and supporting the Children’s Cancer Institute is one such event and with the annual Swim for Cancer coming up in nearly a week’s time – Sunday 7th April, this evening’s ‘storytelling’ was even more appropriate. Continue reading