This is sponsored content for Tasmania.
There's something about the fresh, crisp air in Launceston during winter that wakes up the senses and readies you to explore the region's incredible local flavours.
Just ask Masterchef alumni, cookbook author and host of SBS's Destination Flavour, Adam Liaw, who invites us to rug up and explore the ingredients delivering robust flavours to Tasmanian plates.
Australia's third oldest city is experiencing something of a revival, winning accolades as a hanging garden of incredible produce that's finding its way to local plates at the many cafés and restaurants from the farm gate to the town centre.
Launceston is also an ideal location from which to get off the beaten path, with plenty of local producers swinging open their gates and welcoming visitors with a wintery-warm embrace. And that's just what Adam invites us to do. But not before grabbing an oatmeal coffee, just-baked pastries, and sausage rolls freshly made with pork from Mount Gnomon Farm and backyard fennel at small batch butter factory and café, Bread & Butter. It even has toasters on the tables for those dining in; a clever touch that delights winter toast lovers.
Once on the road, it's only 45 minutes before we arrive at the historic riverside town of Deloraine. It's here that the island's first truffle farm, and home of Australia's first black truffle, Tasmanian Truffles run by brother and sister duo Henry and Anna Terry, was established. Their parents had the ingenious idea to plant hazelnut and oak trees in 1994 in the hope of producing the mysterious and valuable black truffles. The French said it couldn't be done, but in 1999 that first black-gold nugget was dug up, smelling like sweet success. Today, with the help of Doug the truffle dog, the family boasts a thriving business that exports fresh truffles and products such as truffle oils, honey and mustard to destinations around the world.
Soon after we arrive, Henry invites Adam to hunt for truffles with Doug, who quickly settles on a section of soil. Adam gets down to smell the soil himself, then gently sweeps away the earth to pull out an impressively large, dense truffle that's worth a cool $300.
"It's a truly unique experience, arriving here on a cool Tasmanian winter morning, walking through the orchard and digging up truffles with man's best friend," says Adam, adding; "It's exhilarating."
"It's always exciting to unearth a nice piece of truffle," agrees Henry, adding that to experience it in winter is unique as it's peak season for the farm. The black truffles they farm during the cooler months fetch up to $3000 per kilo.
"The best Tassie truffle experience is to come to the farm and see what we do, and see the dogs in action," says Henry. "People ask me what they smell and taste like. I tell them you have to try it because it's a special ingredient like nothing else."
Tasmanian Truffles offers guided tours where guests can experience the treasure hunt for themselves, actually get their hands dirty digging while learning about the climate and environment they're grown in. Afterwards, guests dine on an exceptional spread catered by the local Deloraine Deli that features all local produce sourced from within mere kilometres, including the freshly-farmed truffles.
"You can't beat having a feed here at the farm with us," says Henry. "We've got salmon from Zigy at 41 Degrees, cheese from Ashgrove Cheese and wallaby smoked by the Deli themselves, and of course our truffles are as fresh as you can possibly have them."
On sourcing ingredients from his neighbours, Henry says; "Growing up here, I know what we're getting is a high-quality product from people that are passionate about what they do. It comes across in the flavour, and I'm proud to be able to share that."
Hunting for truffles is just a small part of what's so spectacular about Tasmania in winter. Describing his home at the foot of the Great Western Tiers, Henry says; "It's a totally different world to the rest of Australia, especially in winter. I just love going for a hike in the snow, experiencing the silence of no one around you for 30 kilometres, or getting up to Cradle Mountain with a beautiful bottle of red, some lovely food and snuggling up by a fire. It doesn't get better than that."
As the afternoon rolls in and the sky glows with a southerly amber tint, we head back to Launceston. Golden hour is the ideal time for a stroll through City Park, scarf wrapped tight, and hands snug in pockets while looking up to admire the trees shedding their multi-hued autumn leaves.
As evening falls, our appetites return, and luckily the dinner options are plentiful. There's Stillwater, that serves contemporary Tasmanian cuisine in a former 1830s flour mill. Recently, it's garnered an architecturally-designed addition, Seven. The expertly furnished, waterfront rooms all enjoy the same attention to detail as you'll find on your plate.
The menu, crafted by executive chef Craig Will, is a showcase of the incredible ingredients sourced from nearby paddocks and the Southern Ocean. Expect an abundance of seafood, winter vegetables and, of course, the exotic black truffle freshly farmed that frosty morning.
Head to the Winter Truffle Indulgence at Stillwater, from June to August this winter, and indulge in a 4-course menu for $125 or $195 with matching wines. Tasmanian Truffles also hosts tours for small groups of 10-15 people for $125 that includes lunch. Visit https://tastruffles.com.au.
Come thrive on winter in Tasmania.