Every day I’m trufflin’ – Truffle Kerfuffle

One week to go!

If the 2019 Winning Appliances & Asko Truffle Kerfuffle were a music concert, who would be the lead singer, who are the real stars, who are the back up vocalists, the dancers and what’s the VIP experience?


1. Lead singer: Truffles

The lead singer, the true star of the show would be the ‘tuber melanosporum’, otherwise known as the black truffle, prized for its rarity and beguiling aroma. Truffle Kerfuffle is a celebration of one of the world’s most luxurious ingredients that fetch prices between $2 and $3 a gram, that’s $2,000 to $3,000 per kilogram, which explains how they came to be known affectionately as ‘black gold’. Truffle season is short, from June to August, and you only need a small amount to transform a dish from ordinary to sublimely extraordinary. Talented chefs will show you how to best use truffle during the free cooking demonstrations on stage at the Festival Village. Plus, there’s no better place to buy freshly unearthed truffles than at the Marketplace in the Festival Village.

Truffle Kerfuffle

Manjimup truffles

2. Back up vocals: Southern Forests Produce

Supporting the lead singer, the black truffle, would be the Southern Forests Produce. The Southern Forests region of Western Australia has clear, crisp air, fertile loamy soils, the purity of the rainfall and 365 growing days a year. From finger limes to potatoes, apples and the prized Bravo apple, pumpkins, persimmons and stone fruit, in fact, the region produces over 50 different types of fruit, vegetable and nuts as well as milk, beef, marron and a host of other food types.  As you savour the produce and you’ll know what the locals have known for generations, that Southern Forests Produce simply looks, smells and tastes better. You’ll be able to try and purchase direct from producers at the Marketplace, which is all undercover at the Festival Village. There is something magical going on in this gorgeous, pristine part of the world.

Truffle Kerfuffle produce

Southern Forests Produce. Photo: Jessica Shaver

3. Dancers: Chefs

Event goers are attracted by the lead singer (truffle), and the back up singers make the lead sound amazing, and that’s what hte Southern Forrest produce does to the truffle. But the dancers make it a show, they entertain, bring glamour, energy, colour, much like the chefs who prepare exquisite dishes with Southern Forests produce starring freshly unearthed truffle.

This year, the impressive line up includes Pete Evans, Poh, Anna Gare, Nicole Bampton (Capriccio Osteria, Sydney), Aaron Carr (Yarri), Russell Blaikie (Must Winebar), Tony Howell (Cape Lodge), Paul Iskov (Fervor), Scott Brannigan (Bread in Common), Chris Eales (Bread in Common), Amy Hamilton (Liberté), Sophie Zalokar (Foragers), Nic Wood (Santini), Melissa Palinkas (Young George), Sophie Budd (Taste Budds), chocolatier Sue Lewis, along with chefs from revered eateries Mary Street Bakery and Tiny’s.

Chef Tony Howell shaving fresh truffle

Chef Tony Howell shaving fresh truffle

4. The band: The Festival Village

Every concert needs a great band. In this analogy, the Festival Village is the band. Set at Fonty’s Pool, it offers amazing truffle experiences and it’s the perfect place to smell, taste, buy and learn about black truffle and Southern Forests wine and produce. There are free tastings, free cooking demonstrations all weekend, truffle dog demos, children’s activities and cooking classes, a chance to chat to producers, farmers and wine makers, live music and much more. The Festival Village is the vibrant hub of Truffle Kerfuffle weekend and offers a unique chance to indulge in black truffles at their freshest, minutes from where they are unearthed. The Festival Village is at Fonty’s Pool open 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Truffle Kerfuffle Marketplace

The Truffle Kerfuffle Marketplace. Photo Jessica Wyld

5. Support acts: Demonstration stage

Like all good headline acts, they choose really great supports acts to get everyone in the mood. There are amazing dining events for truffle lovers to purchase tickets to (see below), but also loads of free activities once inside the Festival Village. All weekend the Winning Appliances & Asko Festival Stage will host non-stop cooking demonstrations featuring great culinary talent including Pete Evans, Poh, Anna Gare, Paul Iskov, Sophie Budd, Nic Wood, Amy Hamilton, Melissa Palinkas, Aaron Car, Nicole Bampton and Sue Lewis. Hosted by popular acclaimed WA chef Tony Howell.

Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Stage

Truffle Kerfuffle Festival Stage. Photos Jessica Wyld

6. VIPS: Dining Events

For a VIP experience, grab tickets to one of the decadent dining events at Truffle Kerfuffle. Take a seat at a candle-lit long table for a delicious dining experience prepared by renowned chefs. Last remaining tickets are available for Enchanted Southern Forests Feast with Pete Evans, Magical Manjimup Brunch with Aaron Carr and Mary Street Bakery on Saturday, L’Elegante Tartufo (The Elegant Truffle) dinner with Santini’s Nic Wood and Melissa Palinkas from Young George on Saturday night, Wholesome Winter Sunday Brunch with Pete Evans, and Poh’s Lunch Among the Karris.

Truffle Kerfuffle Long Table Dining.

Truffle Kerfuffle Long Table Dining. Photo Jessica Wyld

7. V-VIPs: Chefs Cabin

Amp up your Truffle Kerfuffle experience with a V-VIP experience, getting up close and personal with your favourite culinary super stars in the Chef’s Cabin Series. Popular with foodies and those wanting to be up close to learn more about using such a premium ingredient, chefs will be sharing recipes and knowledge with lots of tips and tricks. Gather around the kitchen bench of the limited Chef’s Cabin Series and run to grab one of the last tickets with Pete Evans, native food expert Paul Iskov from Fervor and revered Liberté restaurant owner and chef Amy Hamilton. Hosted by Gourmet Traveller’s Max Veenhuyzen, the Chef’s Cabin Series are renowned for personal connections, flowing conversations and include fine wine. Most of the Chef’s Cabin sessions are already sold out, so get in quick.

Chef's Cabin Truffle Kerfuffle

Truffle Kerfuffle Chef’s Cabin. Photo Jessica Wyld

8. Back Stage: Truffle Hunts

What’s it like back stage at a concert? Back stage is as alluring as the rare black truffle. Fossicking through forests of hazelnut or oak trees with clever canines hunting for truffles is the quintessential truffle experience. The remaining Truffle Hunts are selling fast with a few places still available. Choose from renowned truffle growers Australian Truffle Traders, Fonty’s Pool Farm, Silverwood Truffles, Timeless Hill and Millgrove Truffles for a truffle hunt. Tickets include shuttle buses from the Festival Village to the truffière.

truffle dog truffle kerfuffle

Truffle Kerfuffle trufle hunt. Photo: Jessica Wyld

9. The party: Masterclasses and Wine Shed

With good food, comes good wine, and leading wine expert Paul Edwards from Full Bottle Wine Education and Events will lead the Wine Shed Sessions presented by Winning Appliances & Vintec. The themed Wine Shed Sessions feature six tastings that will explore the best regional wine including texture, science, art and terroir in an informal long table format.

New this year are five intimate and interactive Beer and Spirit Masterclasses held across the weekend in the Jarrah Jacks Bar that will showcase how to perfectly pair delicious local beers with artisanal cheeses, beer with chocolate or whisky with cured meats, as well as experience the unique and interesting flavours of rum and learn about the art of making award-winning gin.

Truffle Kerfuffle Wine Shed

Wine Shed Session. Photo: Jessica Wyld

10. The After Party: The After Party

Extend your weekend and watch the sun go down on the ninth annual Truffle Kerfuffle. Gather by the fire, catch up with old friends and new, listen to truffle stories and toe-tap to fireside tunes. Tiny’s head chef Josh Gray will spit roast a sensational, simple and hearty rustic dinner that comes with a glass of something local. Rub shoulders with chefs, producers, locals and visitors and take time to unwind and reflect after an amazing weekend. And yes, of course there’ll be truffles.

Fonty's Pool night

Fonty’s Pool at night during Truffle Kerfuffle. Photo Jessica Wyld

Fact File 

Truffle Kerfuffle is held in the most prolific truffle growing region in the Southern Hemisphere and is a true celebration of Manjimup’s prized black truffles, sought-after by chefs across the globe for their consistent high quality, impossible-to-describe taste and heady, earthy aroma

21-23 June 2019

Fonty’s Pool, Manjimup, Western Australia


Disclosure: I’m managing the PR for Truffle Kerfuffle. Regardless, it’s a great food festival and I think you’ll love it as much as I do. Plus, truffles!

Lucky Melbourne: direct flights to the Kimberley

It’s good news if you live in Melbourne. For the first time, direct flights will commence between Melbourne and Kununurra. The East Kimberley Marketing Group, with the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley and Alliance Airlines, have confirmed that the long-awaited direct flights will commence in May 2020, creating a valuable new Western Australian link into one of Australia’s most iconic tourism destinations.

The trial air service will include three return flights per week from Melbourne to Kununurra, the gateway to the Kimberley region, providing east-coast travellers with a direct and affordable opportunity to experience the wonders of the stunning Kimberley region without the inconvenience of multiple lengthy connections.

The flights, scheduled to operate during the tourism season from May to August 2020, opens up access to iconic destinations such as the World Heritage listed Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungle), El Questro Wilderness Park, Lake Argyle, the Gibb River Road and the northern-Kimberley coast as well as iconic events such as the Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster.

Kimberley Moon Experience

Kimberley Moon Experience. Photo: Ben Broady

The service will utilise Alliance Airlines’ Fokker 70 aircraft, seating 80 passengers, and will be operated on a code-share arrangement with Virgin Australia, allowing passengers to connect through to other ports on the same ticket. Tickets will be available through the Virgin Australia website and will go on sale in the coming weeks.

The direct flights, that will be about four hours in duration, will also improve travel options for local residents, reducing barriers to connectivity and improving the liveability of the region.

Alliance Airlines

The East Kimberley Marketing Group recognised the need for improved connectivity to the region in a study conducted in 2016.

Michael McConachy, Chair of the East Kimberley Marketing Group, said that it was rewarding to see the direct flight service become a reality.

“The air service has been made possible through the continued and collaborative efforts of all of the key stakeholders, including local and state government, and the local tourism and business community, and it will be a game-changer for our region,” Mr McConachy said.

“The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley is to be commended on their bold and progressive support of the direct air service.”

The air service will be underwritten by the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley, the Kununurra tourism and business industry and the Department of Regional Development.

David Menzel, Shire President of the Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley, said it was clear that there continues to be significant and united community support for this service.

“The new air service will play a key role in attracting more tourists to the East Kimberley, driving economic growth to the region. It’s also expected to increase and create new business opportunities.”

The air service trial supports the Council’s other key strategies of improved connectivity to the region and the lengthening of the runway in Kununurra.

Ord River. Credit: Tourism WA

Tourism Western Australia has committed $250,000 towards a targeted marketing campaign which will showcase the Kimberley region to east-coast travellers.

The Melbourne to Kununurra air service has been further supported by major tour and cruise operator, APT, who have committed to the pre-purchase of a substantial number of the available seats, providing greater access to their guests.

The Kimberley, known for its remote location and untouched wild and rugged landscapes, has traditionally been a bucket-list destination for travellers around the world.

It is expected that direct flights between Melbourne and Kununurra will commence prior to must-attend event, the 20th annual Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster which was created 19 years ago to kick-off the tourist season in the region.

If you haven’t visited the Kimberley yet, add it to your list. It really is one of the most special places in Australia, and in my opinion, the world.

Useful links

Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley, visit https://www.swek.wa.gov.au/

For tourism information about the Kimberley region, click here

For tourism statistics on the Kimberley region – click here

Cruising for dolphins in Mandurah

The Mandurah Dolphin Island Adventure tour takes you on a 1.5-hour cruise through the Mandurah Canals into the Dawesville Cut and out into the Peel-Harvey Estuary to see Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins. Dolphin sightings are guaranteed on this cruise, meaning that if dolphins are not seen, you’ll receive a free cruise. However, dolphin sightings are very likely.

We didn’t even have to wait to see our first dolphins, a pair of dolphins next to the boat’s docking space. Once admiring these friendly creatures we headed to Dawesville Cut, a man-made channel between the Peel-Harvey Estuary and the Indian Ocean. There is an entire community of dolphins that live around the Cut, many of them have braved shark attacks or sadly been entangled and injured in fishing line.

We saw about five dolphins swimming about in the water and playing with each other in one section and more in other areas. There was a dolphin with most of his dorsal fin missing named ‘John Edwards’, his fin bitten off by the sharks that plague Dawesville Cut. He is usually seen with his mates, other dolphins called ‘Jack Daniels’ and ‘Jim Beam’.

Here’s a short clip of our day:

Video by Leo Paoliello of @captured_moments42, John Paoliello and Dianne Bortoletto

Upon leaving the Dawesville Cut, we went into the Peel-Harvey Estuary and were told about the important Mandurah wetlands that attracts bird life including the migratory Red-Necked stints, which can be seen from October to March as they fly from North Asia to Mandurah yearly. Whilst travelling, our guide pointed out the artificial osprey nests that tower above the trees. The nests were built to house ospreys, as the trees they were previously nesting in were cleared for residential development.

When cruising through the estuary we encountered ‘Nicky’, one of the oldest of the Mandurah dolphins. She is a grandmother dolphin as her daughter has had a calf.

Our boat then travelled through the rest of the estuary and of the canals at a swift pace, and we were back at the dock. Mandurah Cruises Dolphin Island Adventure tour is a must if you want to experience the vast wildlife of Mandurah.

There is a possibility of seeing whales as the boat travels through the Leeuwin current, a passage that whales travel through as they migrate to and from Antarctica. Even though we didn’t see whales, we saw loads of dolphins in their natural habitat.

Guest blog post by Matt Paoliello (14yo Year 9 student), Travelletto’s nephew 

Did you know….that Mandurah is an island?

dolphin swimming

Fact File

Mandurah Cruises

Book online or call (+61) 08 9581 1242

Mandurah Cruises boat

Cape Lodge Cooking Masterclass with chef Tony Howell

I was thrilled that an invitation to attend Cape Lodge‘s cooking class with WA’s favourite chef Tony Howell coincided with a trip down south to Margaret River. I’ll declare straight away that chef Tony Howell is a client of mine at Pronto PR. He is an amazing chef and so great with people (which is why Tourism WA engage him to represent the state). The other 20 people in the masterclass said the same so I thought you’d be interested to hear more too.

Cape Lodge, a stunning country manor style boutique hotel in the Margaret River region, runs cooking classes each month, usually with a different theme – French Bistro, Truffles, Bastille Day, Spring Lamb, Festive Season and the like. Our class was on the Art of Fish.

Here’s a little video I made about it.


Tony demonstrated how to fillet three kinds of fish: nannygai, salmon and dhu fish. He talked about buying fish, the difference between line caught and net caught fish, filleting fish and how to fillet different kinds of fish, what to do with the skin, bones, heads and other remains and demonstrated how to make:

  • fish stock
  • fish jus
  • gravlax
  • smoked tartare
  • smoked salmon
  • seafood chowder
  • pan fried nannygai
  • lemon and ricotta tart

He talked about Chilli Jam and his famous Asian Broth and asked restaurant manager Marco to print those recipes off for us as well.

After a 2.5-hour cooking masterclass (actually, was closer to three hours!), we took a walk through Cape Lodge’s kitchen garden where Chef Tony pointed out edible flowers and we picked a few for tasting. We also picked cucumber melons – mini cucumbers that look like watermelons and grow on vines. We then headed into the restaurant for a much-welcomed glass of Cape Lodge Semillion Sauvignon and sat down to a four-course lunch. Incredible value when you think it’s just $145 per person which includes lunch with a generous amount of wine. If your other half doesn’t fancy sitting through the masterclass, they can join you for lunch for $95.

Chef Tony Howell cooking class

Chef Tony Howell filleting a nannygai with a big screen for us to see it being done

Lunch was incredible – housemade sourdough (the mother was started 15+ years ago) with whipped truffle butter (so luscious I could bathe in that butter!), smoked salmon, salmon gravlax, salmon tartare on squid ink cracker (my dish of the day), seafood chowder (hot contender for dish of the day), nannygai with artichoke puree and lemon and ricotta tart. Every course was executed perfectly – looking down the table, everyone else’s plates were as clean as mine after every course.

We left with a little pack of recipes, completely full stomachs and smiles from ear to ear. It was a great way to spend a day.

seafood chowder

Seafood chowder – it tasted as good as it looks


Going to Cape Lodge is always a treat and to dine in the restaurant even more so, eating delicious dishes made with top quality local produce (besides the salmon which is from Tasmania) that’s been prepared with care. There’s a reason why Cape Lodge is where all the top chefs stay when in the region for Gourmet Escape and why Tourism WA sends media and other VIPs there.

I’ve got my eye on the Black Truffles and Mushrooms masterclass on 15 June. For a list of upcoming cooking classes, visit Cape Lodge website.


Cape Lodge 
Caves Road, Yallingup, WA 6282
Tel: 08 9755 6311

Cooking class starts 11am, $145 pp includes lunch with Cape Lodge wines

salmon gravlax by chef tony howell


Disclosure: Dianne Bortoletto was invited to attend the Cape Lodge cooking class and chef Tony Howell is a client of Dianne’s at Pronto PR

Rottnest Cruise and Wild Seafood Feast

When the email pinged in my inbox inviting me on a Wild Seafood Experience and cruise on Rottnest Island (20km off the coast of Perth), I signed up straight away. The new tour is an ocean-to-plate boat cruise called Wild Seafood Experience by Rottnest Cruises, blending two of Western Australia’s great icons − Rottnest Island and the Western Rock Lobster (crayfish).

The 2.5-hour cruise is the first-ever interactive seafood tour – and by interactive I mean passengers catch lunch – on Rottnest Island. It was a stunning summer’s day and the cruise on Rottnest Cruises’ multi-level charter vessel around to Parakeet Bay, with an ice cold beer in hand, was sheer bliss.  Here’s a short video about our day:

On the way we stopped to catch lunch, taking it in turns to haul up the cray pots, cheering as each one of the six pots was raised on board with several crayfish inside. Pots were rebaited  with fish heads, and the crays removed. Each lobster was measured to ensure it met compliance, quick photo for insta, then in the crate to be prepared for lunch. It was fun and interesting – I’d never caught a lobster before.

Before lunch, we jumped in crystal clear Indian Ocean for a swim, while crewman Kent was busy shucking oysters for us, then in a first for me, passed me one as I was swimming. Eating freshly shucked oysters while in the ocean, heaven! We devoured an elaborate banquet of sea-fresh delicacies that included Mandurah blue swimmer crabs, king prawns, fresh fish tacos, marinated Fremantle octopus, loads of salads and of course just-caught crayfish, cooked live in an open, on-board kitchen. All this, while taking in Rottnest’s Insta-perfect views and enjoying unlimited beer, wine and bubbles. Now, that’s living.

I was invited, but I wouldn’t rave about anything to you unless I thought it was exceptional, and Rottnest Cruises’ Wild Seafood Experience is exceptional. For a short time, it’s just $175 per adult, totally worth it. The boat caters for 30 guests and a new slightly bigger boat will be in operation soon.

Rottnest lighthouse from boat


Rottnest Cruises’ Wild Seafood Experience operates from Rottnest Island daily from 11am to 1.30pm. Introductory cruise cost (valid until February 28, 2019) is $175 per adult or $125 per child (not ideal for children under 5) and is fully inclusive of three courses (canapes, seafood buffet lunch and dessert), with unlimited beverages.

For bookings, phone +61 8 9586 1136 or visit rottnestcruises.com

Did you know…?

The western rock lobster is one of the family of ‘spiny’ lobsters, colourful and protected by a strong carapace. They are sometimes called ‘crayfish’ or ‘crays’. They canlive for more than 20 years and grow to weigh 5 kg. But due to fishing rules, fishers rarely catch animals heavier than 3 kg. When temperatures are cooler they mature at six to seven years old, when their carapace reaches a length of about 90 mm. In warmer water they mature at smaller sizes, usually at about 70 mm.


To read more, head to the Department of Fisheries website here.