Sunday, 17 January 2010

La Fête de la Truffe




As Paula Wolfert suggests in her authoritative book The Cooking of South - West France:

'Something so magnificent must, inevitably, corrupt. Well- truffles will ruin your bank account; as for your virtue, they may ruin that, too.'

Is there any food in the world more surrounded in mystery and intrigue than the truffle?

This weekend saw Sarlat host this region's annual celebration of La Truffe, the black 'diamond' of the Perigord.



With thirty seven producteurs displaying sixty kilos of tuber melanosporum, the heady scent perfumed the entire market square and beyond with an aroma that's both indescribable and unique.


There was an enormous variety of truffle based products for sale. Truffle aperitif, truffled chocolate, truffle cheese, coffee served with a truffle and cream froth, the list went on.



At the stroke of midday, a long line formed leading to a large tent where two chefs lovingly stirred the brouillard, an egg, butter and truffle mixture, gently churned over an enormous bain-marie achieving an almost fondant texture. At once luxurious yet rustic at the same time, it was carefully doled out into little plastic cups to be eaten with a teaspoon savouring every truffly note, such is la truffe's affinity for eggs.

In addition to laying on a truly memorable lunch, the organisers had prepared a busy events itinery which included cookery demonstrations by no less than five michelin starred chefs,



It's a curious thing this subterranean fungus. It lives in a mycorrhizal intimacy with just a handful of tree species, predominately oak though occasionally black pine or hazel.





Although dogs and pigs are frequently used to find truffles, some of the more experienced hunters known as rabassiers will simply look for the little truffle flies which on warm winter days hover in small clouds above the tubers.



You know, it's days like these that make one realise that this really is la France profonde. Deep France, embracing its rural culture away from the hegemony of Paris, rich in tradition, something very magical.

25 comments:

  1. The truffles are beautiful! and Sarlat so charming. There is nothing quite as distinct as the flavor of a truffle. I have one in a tiny jar that a friend brought to me from Italy, but I don't think I'll ever use it for I love looking at it. However, my oils do offer that tasty element to cooking. Lucky you!

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  2. Now that is something I would like to taste. I've watched on tv how the dogs go searching for those elusive truffles.

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  3. Deep France, full of magic. I love the faces on both sides of the table. You must have eaten well that day, Rob. The egg dish sounds amazing. We have those little winter flies, I just saw some a couple of days ago. Could there be truffles under our oaks? :-)
    Frances

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  4. I have to admit, that I have never tried truffles before. But when I do, I hope it is truffle chocolate...

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  5. Oh my! Now, this is a reason to visit France in winter!

    Cheers,
    Cameron

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  6. That really is amazing, great shots.
    Never had truffles, but I can almost taste them from your description. One day...

    Jen

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  7. Wonderful post Rob, I wish I could have been there. I've never tasted truffle -- may be I should be glad, after reading Wolfert's quote. :)

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  8. I've only tasted truffles once and that was when I was living with a French family for the summer many, many years ago .....but I still remember that glorious flavour!

    Your photos were great Rob - even if I'd not known they were French, they could only have been French ...if you see what I mean?!

    I think I prefer the winter Sarlat!

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  9. I don't think I've ever had a truffle before, they sound interesting but I've never taken the opportunity.

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  10. Someday I'll taste a truffle. Sounds like a very enjoyable festival!

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  11. and something very rare. I think another trip to France is in order, but those plane tickets are going up fast these days.

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  12. Wonderful shots of the Trufflemen in action. I just adore your blog!

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  13. Loved the pictures! Glad to know about the flies, as well. There's a fellow in one of the Carolinas (I forget which) who sells inoculated oak and hazel saplings, and I discovered that Oregon has roughly the same latitude as the Perigord, so thought about trying it. Then I read the truffles grown in Tennessee are better than Oregon truffles because their soil is much more limestone (should be good for grapes too!), so I abandoned the idea. But not-as-good truffles are better than no truffles, so maybe I'll reconsider it...

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  14. Truffles - Truffles every where! I can't wait to return to Europe. YOu do a great job of sharing their love for Green!

    Cheers!

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  15. Sarlat looks a lovely place and wonderful photographs Rob thanks for taking us to the fete.

    I have never had truffles but think I might prefer the chocolate variety.

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  16. Lovely to see Sarlat Rob! Looks like a fun fete! I love seeing the bowls of truffles. I would love to have been there! Hope you had a blast. Your photos are wonderful!! The folks look so friendly and happy! It is great to see a rural economic and community based event! Thanks so for sharing! ;>)

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  17. This was such an interesting post to me. I've never tried truffles, but would love to. Thanks for sharing!

    PS I saw your seed list in your previous post, can't wait to see them all in bloom!

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  18. My culinary education is incomplete Rob as I have to confess too that I have never tasted a truffle. Will have to remedy that situation one of these days. Everybody looks as if they are enjoying themselves.

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  19. Count me in, Rob! If once there, might never leave!

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  20. Only in France would one see these
    magnificent treasures celebrated at fairs! A true delicacy!Truffle chocolate sounds yummy!

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  21. Superbe blog. Superbe photos. Bonne continuations.
    www.lechateaudesfleurs.blogspot.com

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  22. I have had truffles only on rare occasions outside restaurants. I was fascinated by your post. As a mater of fact I was fascinated by your blog. I'll be back often. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  23. I enjoyed this very much. Mercy--I have never seen so many in one place. I have contacted that man who lives in NC. It takes 5 years for those inoculated trees to maybe perhaps produce a truffle. Lots of risk but there are those in NC doing it.

    Safely guided secret as to where they are! Cause they go for gold here. But true..our NC soil is much like yours.

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  24. Oh yes, I agree with you, it is really something very magical this tribute to the very delicious Trufa!!! I love life in little towns, away from the big cities!!!
    Cariños,
    Maria Cecilia

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  25. hi rob, did you know there are
    several truffle producers in
    the USA- primarily e.tennesee
    and west n. carolina. the soil is
    good, and i am not too far south. i an considering planting hazelnut orchard, with fresh black perigord
    truffles fron tennesee to inoculate the soil. the chefs sem to be buying, because they can get then fresh dug, overnight.
    he has been very sucessful, after a 7-year wait. they cost the moon!
    vty, johanna

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