Truffle festival events offer plenty to please

The Canterbury Truffle Festival is back next weekend, with truffle hunts and lots of chances to taste the winter delicacy.

Organiser Gareth Renowden said the annual festival was New Zealand's only celebration of ''the prestigious and expensive underground fungi'' and runs from July 14 to 29.

''Truffles are the underground fruiting bodies of fungi that grow in lime-rich soils in association with trees such as hazels, oaks and pines,'' he said.

''They develop amazingly powerful aromas and flavours and are a celebrated and revered part of the cuisine and food cultures of France and Italy.''

New Zealand's black and white truffles could command more than $3000 per kilogram, he said.

''North Canterbury is at the heart of the fast-growing New Zealand truffle business. The region boasts more truffle producers than any other part of the country, with at least 15 truffieres [truffle plantations] supplying top quality Perigord black, bianchetto, Burgundy and winter black truffles,'' he said.

''Every year, new truffieres come into production, new truffieres are planted and the region's harvest continues to grow.''

The Canterbury Truffle Festival was launched in 2015 and this year includes truffle tastings, demonstrations and sales at farmers' markets in Christchurch, Lyttelton and Amberley.

He said the region's top truffle growers, chefs, restaurants and wineries had joined forces ''to demonstrate why Canterbury is a premier food destination for both New Zealanders and international visitors''.

Truffle hunts and lunches at Waipara wineries Pegasus Bay and Black Estate ''were so popular they sold out in a matter of hours'', Mr Renowden said.

Truffle dinners are being offered at The Tannery and the Hotel Montreal in Christchurch, while chef Jimmy McIntyre is offering a truffle cooking class at Otahuna Lodge.

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