Truffle is a delicacy, which, like a real treasure, is mined literally from the ground. The features of its searching are known only to the experienced mushroom picker guides and their specially trained dogs. Today many hotels in Northern Italy invite to a “silent hunting” with the royal trophies.
The most precious species of the wild truffles can be found in the south of France, in Switzerland and in the north of Italy. Since the Middle Ages, the truffle searching in this area was the first task for dogs. They are able to smell a delicacy at the distance of several dozen metres. When they are puppies, they begin to train. Coaches for the puppies hide smelly cheese underground so the puppies can dig it out. The coaching continues up to five years. The purchase of such a four-legged hunter may cost an owner a big sum that is over ten thousand euros.
Italian truffles are considered as the most delicious mushrooms. Italy has over 25 species of truffles, but not all of them are eatable and marketable. The favorite is a white truffle with a cheese taste: it is picked from October to December in Toscana, Piemonte, Umbria. People hunt for Marzullo truffle from January to April. Its clear smell with the garlic notes is possible to feel in many Tuscan dishes. The Marzullo is replaced by a tender Scorcone truffle with a bronze pulp. It is picked all the summer in the oak-pine forests. And finally, the rarest Tuscan black winter truffle with a soft delicate smell, which likes dry and cold weather. Its season lasts from November to March. The price of these delicacies can reach 4000 euro per kilogram.
The easiest truffle hunting is possible with a professional guide and his trained dog. Many Tuscan hotels offer gourmets the forest tours of various durations. The excursions may last one or two hours, but more often they take place for a whole day. The “silent hinting” is combined with a wine tasting and/or truffles cooking class and stop for a dinner. The price of these tours starts at 80 euro.
All truffles species are appreciated for specific smell and rich taste of nuts or the roasted sunflower seeds. For some time the fresh and raw mushrooms are left in warm to have the strong aroma. Later they are rubbed just over a hot dish (at the rate of approximately one tablespoon per serving) or used for the future cooking. The truffles greatly match the cream textures. That is why they are often used with butter, cheese and eggs as recipe ingredients.
Text by Elena Burtseva