I love Autumn – it is my favorite time of the year. My Aussie husband agrees, as he loves dark beer and big rich stews. My autumn dreams are a little more pointed and specific: truffles. Black, earthy, pungent, wonderful truffles. We had an opportunity to go truffle hunting in Italy, as part of a culinary week-long vacation in Umbria. More about the trip later; today we are focused. I was hoping we would be hunting with the traditional unearther of truffles - the pig, but apparently they are hard to control and often eat the prize before the handler has a chance to snatch it away to safety. So now they use specially trained dogs, which do not like truffles so much. They prefer the doggie treat they receive for a job well done. Which means more truffles for us!
We met our guide and his dog in a grove of hazelnut trees (as this is an area ripe with possibility) and after a short lesson on how to dig, set off after the busily sniffing dog. We were instantly rewarded with a beautiful specimen, and carefully dug it up. It was a good day for hunting, and by the end of our allotted hour we had a sizeable collection of truffles to turn into tasty dishes.
The meals that followed were some of the best I have had! Simple pasta with a celery and grated truffle sauce, beef with a wonderful shaved truffle topping. Sigh… I wonder if truffles grow around here?