Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Truffle hunting in Le Marche (Part 2)

After a leisurely breakfast at Ramuse, Moreno came to pick us up to take us to where we were meeting the truffle hunter close to Montefortino and under the Sibillini Mountains. A 30 minute drive through some spectacular rural scenery with hilltop villages ensued – I was particularly relieved that I wasn’t driving because a) I don’t think I would ever have found where we needed to go and b) the roads were incredibly narrow and windy. While driving, Moreno filled us in on a host of information about the area, and in particular about truffles. This area is home to 3 types of edible truffles – the summer black truffle, black truffle and then the famous and much sought after white truffle. October to December is best for white truffles and December to March for black truffles which unfortunately our trip didn’t coincide with.

Pic: The spectacular scenery

We finally arrived at our destination where Francesco, the truffle hunter, and Suza, his prize truffle hunting dog were waiting. Extremely passionate about truffles, Franceso has chosen to leave behind his career as a lawyer and instead to work on the family farm and hunt truffles during the week, which he then sells at markets over the weekend. Since white truffles can sell from between R7000 to R21000 a kilogram, I can easily understand why. Moreover, the surrounding country side and its sheer tranquility would also been strong draw cards for me!

Pic: Francesco and Suza

With much anticipation we soon set off. Given the time of year, and according to Moreno, the presence of “vipers” (they pose a danger to the dogs which need to sniff low to the ground to seek out truffles), we couldn’t visit the natural surrounding forests and had to rather restrict ourselves to the inoculated truffle tree orchard. Once in the fenced off orchard, Suza was taken off her leash and sent hunting while we tried to act disinterested so as not to distract her from the job at hand. Soon Suza started to dig and Francesco had to quickly pull on his gloves and retrieve the truffle before Suza got to it. Once retrieved, Francesco gave the truffle to Sash and then got Suza to start looking again.

Pic: Suza finds the truffle in Sash's pocket

Sash put the truffle in her pocket and then sat down once again, trying to act disinterested. Suza was too clever for that – she was quickly sniffing at Sash’s pocket where the truffle was. Unfortunately Suza had become too excited and distracted so we decided to call it a day. It was also time to head on to our lunch destination which would be followed by a pasta making course.

More to follow…

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