First of all, I thought I have the best job in the world…I thought that until a few weeks ago that is…
I had an opportunity to go truffle hunting with a certified guide and his wonder truffle dog, Tito. In the name of research, I had to go for my workshop attendees. Let’s get it straight: my job doesn’t suck, however here’s why I think in another life, I will be a truffle hunter. Full disclosure: truffles are one of my favorite things on the planet, and it’s no wonder that hunting for them proved to me why they are so incredible as an ingredient.
I met Simone and Tito at a designated location, and then we headed off into the mountains for my first ever truffle hunting experience. You may remember I went to a truffle festival in Alba, in the Piedmont a couple years ago. But this, my friends, was truly a bucket list moment for me.
Okay back to Simone and Tito. Tito is a truffle dog, so of course I had a million questions for Simone about how one trains a truffle dog. The breed has been bred specifically for this purpose: to sniff out the yummy goodness of the truffle buried beneath the forest floor. It’s called the Lagotto Romagnolo; that’s a mouth full. Tito was in the back of the car crated and quiet. We drove up the mountain with my never ending questions about training Tito. Simone was very patient in explaining that one must spend many many many hours training these dogs. First you feed the puppies truffles, so they get a sniff and a taste for them (see even the dogs think they are yummy). Then hand signals, treats and even getting on your hands and knees to show them how to gently dig, so as not to break the truffle. Foraging the woods is a team effort. These 2 make the perfect team as I found out after 3 hours of foraging in the beautiful countryside. It was exciting and zen all at the same time. Hence my epiphany that I should have been a truffle hunter. Walking in nature endlessly looking for these hidden treasures was something that was heavenly to me. I learned a lot about truffles and hunting in these 3 hours spent with the ultimate hunting team.
What I learned about truffles:
- There are 7 types of truffles that one can legally hunt in Italy.
- Hunting for truffles is a year round activity (I thought it was only fall but no, Simone and Tito hunt all year).
- Moisture has much to do with the harvest, and rain is a very important factor in the quantity of truffles annually. The more rain, the more truffles.
- Hunting with dogs is far superior to pigs as dogs are more delicate and hunt with their paws, and pigs dig up truffles with their snouts often breaking the truffles.
- Truffles can be found all over the forest floors, not just the roots of trees.
- White truffles are harder to find and much more delicate to extract from the earth than black truffles
- There’s actually a school where guides can go to learn to guide truffle hunts
Needless to say, we had to eat truffles for lunch and the perfect place was right up the road. My tortellone with ricotta and egg sprinkled with black truffles was divine. The perfect end to a cool day hunting what I love with a great guide and a spectacular dog, Tito, who won my heart.
If you’re interested in hunting truffles, you will have an opportunity at our upcoming workshop in 2018 as this will become a staple of the offerings for our free day.
All hail Tito, too! Now I want a truffle dog. xx
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