The internet connection is still sooo slow… Yesterday afternoon it took 3 hours to send one page email, and that was to the internet ‘service provider’ ha! a joke. However following the one comment received no my last post (which reminded me of the late Michael Winner) I decided to talk instead about something pleasurable; the truffle hunt I went on last Sunday.
Now truffles I adore, and the chance of going out with a professional truffle hunter was an opportunity too good to miss. So Sunday a friend and I headed off into the foothills of the Apennines near the village of Scheggia where they were holding a small truffle fair. Surprising what goes on in theses far off quaint places! So we met up with our group and the guides and headed off into the Monte Cucco Regional Park to hunt for truffles
Now here in Umbria it is not as people believe hunting with pigs (those we leave for other purposes 😉 ) but with dogs. Alberto our hunter was working with a his dog, Aldo who he says can sniff the scent of a truffle for almost one kilometre and follows on until he finds it! But, he has one problem, he is nervous in crowds and some of the fellow excursionists had brought their own dogs along for the jaunt, so our truffle dog spent much time doing what dogs do best. It was a cold early morning but the sun broke through and became pleasantly warm. We were walking through territory much like the estate at Bellaugello Gay Guest House, a mixture of deciduous woodland, small streams and ravines, and rough pastureland hedgerows and evidence of woodcutters.Now I knew that truffles are found at the base of oak trees, but what I did not know that they are also found under poplar trees, gorse bushes and blackberry and sloe bushes, indeed it seems in a multitude of places. We were on the hunt for the fabled white truffle, and it was not long until Aldo was scratching at a bit of moist soil Lo! and behold a truffle, tiny but a truffle, the smell heady, strong, intense, delightful
We walked all morning concerning hedgerows woodland and banks of fast running streams, our haul seven truffles, not exactly huge but yes, we had found some. I now fully realise that this is something man cannot do alone the services of a well trained and dedicated dog are essential, and for a dog to get to the stage of being a great truffle hunter lots of time and patience is required. Yes lots! I also learnt that there are not just the four types I had thought of but many many more, and as is so typical of Italy one region’s truffle connoisseur decries another region’s truffles “those from Viterbo taste dirty and acidic, those from Molise are soft, mushy and inedible”! So proud are the local squad.
So off to Costacciaro for lunch organised for our group, one of whom was Mirko our high mountain trekking guide, who regaled us with more mountain stories and showed us many wild plants that are traditionally used for making marmalades, liqueurs and medicinal purposes. A great country morning. Lunch in a small agriturismo was local food and of course lots of truffles..
An antipasto of locally cured meats with truffle bruschetta and frittata al tartufo was followed by farro al tartufo and then bread of turkey al tartufo. The deserts did not feature truffles but were also delicious. Alberto wanting to make up for the small truffles we had found during our morning walk, scampered off home and brought back his prize jar. Huge white truffles “Tuber Magnatum Pico” 360 grammes of which were set on the plate in front of me.. Wow!Slightly larger than the truffles of the size we found some of which were also black truffles which encircle the next photo! I am sure the professional truffle hunters do not want to divulge all their secrets, after all I wouldn’t. But it was an immensely enjoyable expedition. I now have a new source of truffles for Bellaugello Gay Guest House, they will feature more frequently on the dinner menus next season, yummy!
Anyone interested in truffle hunting we will be organising half day excursions next year, and after Alberto has come over to explore the grounds at Bellaugello – he threatens to gift me a truffle dog, who knows we may be digging up our very own truffles in our own backyard. To be included on the mailing list for trekking and truffle hunting excursions drop me a mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I WILL rant, I need to… wait on, like I have to with the internet connection…