For many, French food is the best in the world and French truffles the epitome of fine dining. Truffles are the most expensive food in the world; A single pound of white truffle can sell for thousands of Euros and prices for black truffles are not too far behind. Prices reflect the time consuming and labour intensive process of hunting this fungus – truffles aren’t a product that can be successfully mass produced.
Our properties at Les Milandes are within the Périgord – an area which produces French truffles so good, they are named the ‘Diamonds of Périgord.’ These highly prized truffles grow beneath the surface of the soil in the root systems of certain types of trees. For centuries, hunters (known as Rabassiers) have used dogs or female pigs to sniff out these delicacies. (Sows have an incredible sense of smell, but they do tend to try and eat the truffles!)
Winter time is when these Périgord French truffles are at their best. They reach their flavoursome peak in January and February. Périgord black truffles have a subtle aroma and an earthy flavour which many compare to the taste of rich chocolate.
Buying French truffles
If you fancy seeing (and buying) some French truffles then there are a number of local markets to choose from. The region’s largest truffle market can be found in Lalbenque, not far from the Périgord. Other truffle markets take place at Brantome, Périgueux, Sarlat and Sorges. The latter even has its own truffle museum – the Musée de la Truffe.
Just a word of warning for those who do purchase a truffle. Experts say that contact with other surfaces reduces the aroma of a truffle and they should only be washed when they are ready to be used. If they aren’t frozen, a truffle has a very limited shelf life, so don’t leave them in the fridge and forget about them!