On plates, menus, social media feeds - Australian black winter truffles seem to be everywhere right now, even in North America.
To celebrate the northern-hemisphere launch of Australia's truffle season, Western Australia's Truffle & Wine Company is touring the US, spruiking the joys of Tuber melanosporum. In addition to packing masses of Manjimup black truffles, the company - now the largest trufferie in the southern hemisphere - has also brought along Quay chef Peter Gilmore to help drive home its point.
Kicking things off with an intimate dinner at Per Se in Manhattan this week, Gilmore impressed with the likes of black pudding with morel and truffle purée and wagyu tenderloin poached in truffle jus. Up next, Gilmore will be showcasing the truffles at a Thursday evening cocktail event at RPM, Doug Psaltis's modern Italian diner in downtown Chicago, before heading to Los Angeles for Friday night's collaborative dinner with Josiah Citrin at Mélisse. It's a taxing schedule - not least because all three events are scheduled over just five days - but for Gilmore, fresh is the best way to show off the luxe, $2,500-a-kilo ingredient.
"Honestly, I think the quality of what was landing in my kitchen last season is better than what I was getting out of France," he said as he finished preparations for his Chicago event. "They're out of the ground and within three to four days you've got them in your kitchen. Sometimes the French ones can be three weeks old by the time we get them. I was really impressed with the freshness and texture of the Manjimup truffles as well as their aroma."
Although truffles are an increasingly regular sighting on tasting menus this time of year (and while it sends 95 per cent of its produce offshore, Truffle & Wine Company remains Australia's largest grower), Gilmore believes good results are well within reach for home cooks. "The beauty of truffle is that it's at its best when served simply in a risotto, pasta or even shaved in scrambled eggs."
Peter Gilmore's five favourite New York eats
In addition to flying the flag for Australia and its truffles, Peter Gilmore also found time to eat out in the Big Apple this visit. Here are his top five New York City food picks:
"The best overall experience is catching the train and eating at Blue Hill at Stone Barn. Dan Barber is an absolute genius and probably the most underrated chef in the world. His commitment to heirloom and organic ingredients is exceptional.
"Per Se is probably the most professionally run restaurant I've ever been to. The service staff are impeccable and the kitchen produces modern American classic food with absolute precision.
"At Eleven Madison Park, Daniel Humm serves a dégustation based on the history of New York and New York dishes, although the highlight of the evening was probably the tea service. There was this 1989 pu-erh aged in bamboo that was cracked at the table, ground and served at three different temperatures. A stunning experience.
"A visit to Eataly is always on the agenda in New York City, especially because it's right near Eleven Madison Park.
"The Union Square Greenmarket is on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday every week. We were there on the weekend and the variety of produce from around New York state was stunning. I'd love to have a farmers' market with that amount of diversity and quality on my doorstep."