Truffle hunting in Provence – Gourmet Chick in France

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“Allez! Allez!” Cried our truffier, Eric Jaumard, to his dogs as we wandered through the woods near Mont Ventoux in Provence. We were hunting for truffles. These earthy delicacies are considered a luxury around the world thanks to their unique taste and high price. During the truffle season which runs in Provence from November to March, Eric takes his dogs hunting for truffles a couple of times a week, carefully combing the area beneath the oak trees on his farmland.

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Eric leading the truffle hunt
 
I was invited by the hotel Crillon Le Brave on a truffle hunting weekend in Provence. We spent three nights learning how to cook truffles, tasting wine that would accompany truffles and now we were at the main event, the hunt for the truffles. The main truffle from this part of France is the tuber melansoporum, the truffles grow just underneath the surface of the soil so they are very difficult to find without a dog or pig to sniff them out. Eric told us that while pigs were traditionally used to find truffles the pigs liked the truffles to much so dogs were a safer bet as they were less likely to try and eat the truffles. “Also it is easier to talk to a dog than a pig”, laughed Eric.
 
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The dog digging for the truffles
 
Hunting for truffles really did feel like we were searching for buried treasure. Every now and again the dogs would stop and start sniffing the ground with particular interest, “Allez!” Eric would cry. The dog would dig into the earth towards the truffle and then Eric would take over with a small pick to uncover the precious delicacy. There was a great bond between Eric and his dogs and it was a privilege to see them working together to find the truffles.
 
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Goats cheese salad dressed with truffles
 
When Eric felt satisfied we had found all the truffles we could for the morning we wandered back to a large kitchen and dining area Eric has set up on the property for what Eric describes as a “rustic” lunch. There were truffles with every course. They appeared unadorned and thinly sliced on thin slices of toasted baguette as we drank an apertif outside. They were swirled through thick, creamy pumpkin soup to add depth and earthy flavour. They were scattered over a rich goats cheese salad. However most memorably the musty truffles were layered in soft folds of scrambled egg which was served with jamon and toast. It was perhaps the ultimate brunch dish.
 
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Truffle laced scrambled eggs
 
The truffles did not stop there though. We also had truffles with our dessert, scattered like confetti on the créme anglaise with the combination of earthiness and sweet making the whole concoction taste almost like a strong blue cheese. I am still not entirely convinced by truffles in a dessert! Of course, truffles were not limited to the food alone and our truffle feast was accompanied by a truffle wine, a robust Terres de Truffes red which was produced from vines that grew next to a truffiere. Eric is currently working on a truffle liqueur so even the last drink of the day can have a touch of truffle to it.
 
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Dessert with truffle creme anglaise
 
Essentials
Details: Crillon le Brave, Place d’Eglise, 84410 Crillon le Brave, France (Ph +33 (0) 490 65 6161)
Damage: Budget Breaking
10/10
 
 
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Truffle wine
Gourmet Travel Tips
  • To get to Crillon le Brave from London you can fly to Marseille or take the more relaxing option and travel by train. Catch the Eurostar from London to Lyon and change to a TGV to Avignon. Ticket prices are around €300 return.
  • We visited Crillon le Brave for a truffle and wine weekend which included three nights accomodation, breakfast and dinner every day, wine tasting at Chateauneuf de Pape and a day and lunch truffle hunting. We were guests of the hotel but usually it costs €1,130 for a couple for the weekend. Rooms are usually €230 to €470 a night.
 
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The fields next to the truffiere
 
Part two coming soon with details of my stay at Crillon le Brave and more truffle feasting.
 
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Crillon le Brave and Eurostar.
Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in previous posts on Provence – the market in Aix-en- Provence and dining at Le Passage.

 

 

 

A video of the truffle hunting experience



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12 comments

  1. What a fabulous thing to get to do! The food looks incredible and I would love to travel on Eurostar down to Provence again, I know it takes longer but there’s something very romantic about it, although probably not with the 3 year old….

    I bought a jar of truffle mustard at Masterchef Live last weekend, I was feeling terribly guilty about it afterwards and haven’t told my husband how much it was!

  2. You lucky, lucky lady. Feeling very envious of all your food trips of late. If I move back to Italy I am definitly getting a truffle pig! Tuffles in a dessert is an intereting idea.

  3. Beautiful photos, amazing adventure! Jealous jealous jealous!

  4. Really enjoyed your account – brilliantly told, great photos, what a great experience!

  5. I was totally with you until you started talking about truffle wine! : )

    Sounds like a great weekend, and how long does the journey take via Eurostar? Flying to Marseille/Montpelier is pretty quick, as I recall, so I’ve never considered taking the train to Provence.

  6. Oh this looks like a fantastic holiday! Recently tried truffles for the first time and am totally hooked now.

    Definitely a budget breaking holiday though, lol.

  7. Sarah – train travel is SO much better than plane – even with a 3 year old I am sure

    Robert – Yes I think I have formed an addiction as well

    Graphic foodie – how good would it be to have a truffle pig!

    Krista – I know I am a lucky girl

    Eamon – Thanks very much it was a great weekend

    American in London – it was a step to far for me! It took six hours – so longer than flying but more relaxing I think

    Su-yin – Yes budget breaking for sure

  8. I have always wanted to be in Perigoud during truffle season and want to eat a truffle meal start to finish just like you did, I will do it someday!

  9. OMG too too too too cool! What a lovely autumnal thing to do, and to get to stay at Hotel Crillon Le Brave as well. Very jealous!

  10. I am so excited to be joining the Truffle hunting in Provence this November and so happy to have found your blog. I love truffles and anything that comes from it. Will be a Dream come true.

    1. Oh wow enjoy – I’m jealous. Such a beautiful part of the world and such fun.

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