'You're such a good friend, Liz. Did I remember to invite you to the Blessing of the truffle dogs?' asked the lovely Anne Sturgiss, truffle grower, after reading the tribute I'd published to her beloved truffle dog, Tom.
The Blessing of the truffle dogs was held last weekend at Gap Hills, the trufferie owned by Anne and her husband, Denzil. After the event, I asked Anne if she would kindly send me a note with the names of those in attendance. To my delight (and her surprise), Anne wrote a detailed snippet about the event. It was so delightful, I thought I'd share it with you all. So, over to Anne...
'Thank you, Liz. This is is the third year that we have held the Blessing of the truffle dogs. In 2013, Denzil wanted to do something both to mark the start of the truffle season and to hopefully raise some funds through a gold coin donation on the day for ongoing maintenance of St Andrew's Anglican Church in our local village of Tarago.
Denzil has always been at the core of community life and St Andrew's was facing some challenges that were being met head on by Mulwaree Anglican's Priest in charge, Dr Tom Frame. (who also happens to be past Bishop of The Armed Forces, renowned naval historian and author of The Shores of Gallipoli; Where Fate Calls: Thee HMAS Voyager Tragedy and HMAS Sydney: Loss and Controversy).
Tom and his primary school teacher wife, Helen are now also local cattle graziers. Tom was assisted with the Blessing ceremony by Rev Haydn Swinbourne whose wife, Kylie, also attended. 2013 and 2014 were comparatively quiet affairs enjoyed by local community and fellow truffle growers who brought along their dogs.
Fellow truffle growers in attendance included Damian and Lindsay Robinson of Turalla Truffles, Bungendore; Richard and Barbara Hill of MacenMist, Bredbo; Darko and Franca Brucic of Wamboin; Brendan McAllery of Blayney; Noel Heinecke of Murrumbateman; Sue Richardson & Mick Gavan of Sutton; Ric and Geoff of Rosewood Truffles, Marulan. The rest of the people were members of St Andrew's congregation and other locals.
The dogs blessed included the very experienced Utah and Lily (owned by dog handler/trainer and harvester Dalene Devonshire), Dusty (young dog in training owned by Matt Sturgiss, truffle harvester), Joker (young dog in training owned by Denzil - grower and harvester), Three Spot and Frisbee (owned by Damian Robinson), Gracie (young dog in training owned by Noel) and others truffle dogs whose names escape me. What was fun, I thought, was that several locals brought their various dogs on leads and that added to the colour and excitement of the occasion.
Unfortunately on the day, Denzil and I neglected to publicly express, at the lunch, how amazed and somewhat overwhelmed we were by all the support. We would like to have publicly declared sincere thanks to Reverends Tom and Haydn; Alexandra Olsson; Pierre and Melissa Issa, aka Pepe Saya; Merna Taouk; John Fairley; Denzil's nephew Frank Leahy, who supplied and erected the shade sail that now graces the Truffle Shed; Tarago Village Hall for tables and chairs - are there more? I don't know!
Other important attendees included our friend and much-loved food writer, Liz (bizzy lizzy) and her partner, Peter; Natasha Rudra from The Canberra Times, and Julia Brown, Truffle Festival manager.' Aw, thank you, Anne xo
The truffle hunt...
'After the Blessing, Denzil lead a truffle hunt, accompanied by Damian from Turalla Truffles and several other fellow truffle grower friends. As you will see from Lizzy's photographs, it was a short but successful hunt.'
The feast that followed...
'Alexandra Olsson of Olsson's Pacific Salt, known for her pizzazz with throwing a good event, not only joined in, but 'manned' the coffee machine. She also baked the feta, olive and rosemary tartlets and prepared frankfurters for the children, which were also popular with the adults!
Pepe Saya a.k.a. Pierre Issa, producer of award-winning cultured butter, supplied his award-winning cultured butter to go with the Tarago Truffles, a well as creme fraiche, mascarpone, various cheeses and the bread from Sonoma. The lovely Merna Taouk, of Dessertmakers fame, supplied a range of her desserts and creme anglaise. While John Fairley, of Country Valley Milk, also in attendance, supplied the milk, cream and yoghurt.
I made the pumpkin; potato and leek; and cauliflower soups. Truffle grower friends and local community members contributed vegetable soup, cakes, slices and. What a feast it was! Over to you again, Lizzy.'
Anne, thank you so much for this comprehensive round up. And thank you again to you and Denzil for your very kind hospitality. Peter and I had a truly enjoyable day. xx
The Good Things team attended the blessing of the truffle dogs at Tarago Truffles as guests of our friends, Anne and Denzil Sturgiss. Words in this post by Anne Sturgiss from Tarago Truffles. Photographs by yours truly.
Pepe Saya is sponsoring truffle hunts as part of the 2015 Canberra Region Truffle Festival. Denzil will be conducting the hunts at Tarago Truffles. For more information click here.
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.