It was with great anticipation that we set off for the truffle market that first weekend in February. For me truffles have the sense of the exotic; that special hard to find fungus that is usually discovered by a pig or well-trained dog. They are the ingredients used in Michelin starred restaurants or by TV chefs extolling the virtues of the flavour and smell when shaved upon freshly made pasta.
On this Sunday morning we set off wanting to find out what it was all about. Would I buy a truffle? We mused as to how much they would cost? This is a truffle area and maybe they would be good, very good value. How would we store it and cook it? Would it be appropriate to take one to our friend’s house at lunch time in lieu of a box of chocolates? Until this moment, this very special moment, truffles had not really been a part of my life…at all. Well to be truthful I had purchased a bottle of truffle oil at a market a long time ago but had been left slightly disappointed.
I once read “Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog” by Jamie Ivey. This whimsical portrayal of life in Provence and the joys of training a truffle dog have long fuelled a latent passion to a) have a dog and b) have truffles growing in an oak wood. Well the former came to pass in the shape of Emmie but a truffle dog she is not! YET!
We parked the car and climbed the steps to the top of the town, paper signs dotted around pointed us in the direction of the Truffle Market. I think we had judged the timing right, it started at 10 am and as we were arriving a few cars were pulling up and parking, they too had come to collect the delicacies from the Salles de Fetes.
On entering the hall, I could see other sellers. There was a local wine domaine and to the right a seller of meat products, pates and saucisson, no doubt they were flavoured with truffles. But it was the long trestle table that spanned the width of the hall that caught my eye, it was in a place of importance parallel to the stage. A small but accurate weighing scale sat in the centre of the table, behind which three ladies stood, waiting to sell the truffles.
We approached the table scanning up and down the flat wooden surface. Then it struck… the realisation that there was not a single truffle on the table. They must be in a secure place behind I decided, no doubt protected from coughs and sneezes. But no, the truth, the painful truth was that the truffles had all gone! In desperation I approached the seller, but it was clear, there were none left. To appease my down cast face, she handed me not one but two book marks upon which were printed truffle recipes. It was blatantly clear that this was the closest I was going to get to a truffle today!
You live and learn, we have recently found out that the truffles sell fast, very fast, and one has to be there at the start of the market. I’ll know for next time.
Leaving the Salles de Fetes and walking out into the cool air of a February morning I caught sight of the menu board of the local restaurant, every course was a truffle course….maybe this is where the truffles went!
At The Farmhouse
A few pictures of the outside of the house at the end of February. The garden is starting to wake up and we are dashing around trying to get jobs done before it bursts into life and things are not so easy to access. We have emptied the old laundry room of the plants that had been sheltering from the winter frosts. The last few weeks have been so lovely that we decided we would risk putting them outside.