A Summer Truffle Hunt in Tuscany
We had fun this week on a truffle hunt right outside the house. With the high temperatures and months of rain that we’ve experienced this Summer, we did not expect to find any truffles – this was only a simulation, just for fun – but it was magical anyway !
We have a friend who is a truffle hunt enthusiast, we discovered his passion when he gifted us a handful of truffles a while back.
Occasionally we spot truffle hunters locally, you can spot them when you know what you are looking for: typically a lone human with one to four small dogs and something like a walking stick…
The stick in question is the truffle hunter’s digging tool. Whilst the truffles can be detected by the dogs at the surface it may be necessary to dig deep to get to them. The truffle hunter’s stick has a sharp, sturdy digging tool on it.
Truffle hunters know well enough what time of year to seek and which varieties might be in season. In Tuscany only the famous White Truffle is really valuable, but the many different ‘black’ varieties are found on the menus in the local restaurants – even in the Pizzerias. Black truffles give flavour to many typical Tuscan delicacies, including truffled honey, truffled sheep’s cheese and also as a wonderful condiment to the Bistecca Florentina (shaved truffle served atop a chargrilled Chianina T Bone steak)
Our truffle hunting experience began with a little make-believe. The boys (Malvin and Chris) went out ahead of the dog’s arrival (about an hour before) to hide 7 truffles, they took a pick axe because the ground was so hard.
The hunter and his dogs arrived and the hunt began !
The 4 legged hunters are the ones doing the real work : with their incredible sense of smell of course
The dogs are mother and two of her pups, aged about 7 months. The mother and most experienced hunter but her puppies did all of the work in this session – it was as if mum knew this was a training session !
Quickly enough all 7 truffles were discovered. The golden pup showed himself to be a real star, finding 5 out of 7!
The indication (how the dogs communicate to the handler that they have found something) is a noses to the ground excited scratching. The enthusiasm is contagious as no matter who made the find, all 3 are quickly on scene and working in earnest!
Which is the best dog ? we asked – Whoever finds the most! he answered
The hunter arrives and rewards the dogs, making a swap with treats from his pockets.
What time of day to hunt for Truffles ? we think late afternoon until sunset, particularly in the heat of high Summer.
It was a surprisingly magical experience – and at the end the Truffle Hunter presented us with a bag of truffles and a recipe for supper !
The real Truffle Hunt happens at specific times of year, but all year round, theoretically, we can organise a ‘Truffle Treasure Hunt’ (training) such as this one. This activity is offered exclusively to Siena House guests at very good rates (contact us to know more*) A truffle treasure hunt lasts about an hour, you will find and take home truffles and a recipe to try in the Summer Kitchen afterwards !
*Market prices for truffles / and which season you hunt in will alter the rates such as out of season hunting or white truffle hunting is going to be more costly than a black truffle hunt in season.
We are offering a truffle treasure hunt, so you are guaranteed to ‘go home’ with truffles – included in the rates !
Siena House is a boutique hotel in Tuscany writing about Tuscany.