New editions of The Truffle Book now available

Limestone Hills Publishing is pleased to announce the new limited edition hardback version of The Truffle Book, and for those who like to read on-screen, the brand new PDF edition. The hardback edition is strictly limited to 150 copies, reasonably priced at NZ$69.95, each hand-numbered and signed by the author. The PDF edition is priced at $NZ15 (roughly US$10, GB£5.70, E8.20) and I’ll sell as many as people want, but PDF purchasers who want the full book experience (more bandwidth, fully portable, no batteries required) will be able to buy either paper-based edition with a NZ$10 discount.

I’m now toying with ideas for the audiobook version. I need a cheap studio in Christchurch to record the basic audio tracks, and then I can do all the editing in Garageband. Anyone fancy a truffle podcast?

In cyberspace, no one can see you blush

Two more reviews: one formal, one informal and unattributable. The first, from the Rotorua Daily Post/Weekender, by Judith Moore:

His book is a revelation — everything you want to know about truffles — the international scene, how to fondle and sniff a truffle, recipes, history, dog training. Most important of all, he gives instructions on how to grow your own truffle. With deft touch, entertaining text and good photographs, Renowden skips over the difficulties — alkaline soil, 10-year wait, porcine poachers — and waxes lyrical over the end results.

The informal review is a little more effusive. In it, a senior member of the British royal family (his name begins with C and he lives in Gloucestershire) thanks a friend for his Christmas present:

Bless you for sending me that absolutely rivetting book on truffles! It is un-put-downable!

In a further sign of royal approbation, the writer’s father has ordered extra copies for the Palace library. Unfortunately, royal etiquette means I can’t use the quote on the cover, but I am chuffed. As is my mum.

Truffle Book on MSNBC

The Truffle Book was always intended to have an international audience. It’s about the world of truffles and the truffles of the world, so I was particularly please when Jon Bonné, lifestyle editor on MSNBC, referenced the book as a source in a piece about aphrodisiacs, cunningly timed for Valentine’s Day. Jon’s blog, Amuse-bouche is also well worth a visit — full of interesting bits and pieces, or as he calls them, lagniappes

I never read reviews #1

The proverbial ass (a truffle ass, near Ollogoyen in Spain). Never believe a writer who says he never reads his reviews. We all do. If they’re good, it’s vanity – if they’re bad, it’s a pain in the proverbial ass.

Shortly before I headed off to Europe I bagged up a stack of copies of The Truffle Book and sent them off to the book reviewers of New Zealand. Now the reviews are beginning to trickle in. The Nelson Mail did a very nice write-up (see below), and I’ve just had a clipping of Charmian Smith’s review in the Otago Daily Times. She describes it as “very readable” and “an excellent introduction to the fungus for those who are thinking of growing them, and those who just like to know about highly prized ingredients”. Thanks, Charmian. I wonder when the first bad review will arrive?

The Book has landed

Here’s the big news: I have copies of The Truffle Book. Four pallets each laden with 40 brown boxes stuffed with lovely little books, the fruits of a very long labour. Copies will go out to everyone who helped me in the next day or so, and review copies shortly thereafter. The NZ distributor (Nationwide) starts the sell-in next week. Copies should be in NZ bookstores soon after. The big promotion push won’t happen until late summer (Feb/March) because we’re getting too close to Christmas (and it pains me to say that – it’s still months away), and I’m still waiting to hear from Australia, but I’ll have copies for sale on the Limestone Hills site very soon. In the meantime, don’t forget you can download a pdf sample here. Time for a drink… Muddy Water 2001 Syrah when I get home.

Truffle Book intro now available for download

The new Limestone Hills web site has just been uploaded, and a sample pdf of the Foreword, Introduction and first chapter is now available for download.. Just go here, and click on the download link. I’m currently finalising proofs with the printer and resolving a pre-press issue (the strange case of the disappearing ligatures) (not a medical problem). The whole thing should be on press very soon. I have to put my selling boots on. I wonder if they’ll fit.

Done (and dusted)

Preflighted (who’d have guessed that there were some odd little bits of Times lurking in pages of Hoefler Text), packaged, and burned to DVD (twice). Then over to the printer to drop it off, look at a paper dummy, discuss timings. Should be on machine in the last week of the month, and delivered by the end of the second week of October. Now I have to turn into a sales and promotion person. First priority: an A4 promotional sheet I can send to people, and then I begin the sell-in. It looks as though I’ll have about a month to get the thing “launched”, because in the second half of November I’m off to Europe for a month. A week in London, a mushroom conference in Spain, and then a tour of the truffle business in Spain followed by a few days in the Périgord. So I’ll have four weeks to “do” the initial NZ promotion of the book – four weeks to get the book being noticed, and bought. Will I be left with four pallets loaded with unsold books?

I also have to do some sustained work on the Limestone Hills website, particularly the book pages. I’m aiming to have a .pdf sample of the book available for download in the next few weeks, and the full book available for download soon after the print launch.

The Truffle Book cover takes shape

The Truffle Book has steadily been taking shape over the last few weeks. I’ve got one more chapter to lay out, but the rest is ready for proofreading and the cover is in the final stages of tweaking. Off to a printer in a couple of weeks. Out in October?TheTruffleBookcovertakes.jpg

With luck, it will attract attention on bookshop shelves, if only because the truffle on the cover could, according to a friend of mine, be mistaken by the uninitiated as a turd. I think it looks rather more like a warty UFO, but if it is in any way turd-like, then I will claim that this was a deliberate design ploy on my part, designed to set up a cognitive dissonance in the viewer, thus drawing them in to check out the book.

The truffle itself weighed 30g, was harvested at John & Iris Burn’s Ashburton truffière in July, and provided by them for photography free of charge. Sadly, from an eating point of view, it had been frozen. Thanks very much indeed, John and Iris. You’ll be getting a credit in the book, of course.

Antonio Carluccio writes foreword to The Truffle Book

Over the years, Antonio Carluccio has had a large part to play in the development of our family cuisine. When Camille I were first married, and it became apparent that if I wanted to eat something other than takeaways I’d have to do the cooking, the first cookbook we bought was Antonio’s An Introduction To Italian Cooking. It fired me with an enthusiasm for Italian food and by some strange osmosis his evident love for finding and eating wild mushrooms worked its way into my system.A couple of years ago, Antonio was the star guest at a local foodie masterclass weekend (Savour New Zealand), and visited Limestone Hills. He cooked porcini in our kitchen:


I had a chance to blame him for my current lifestyle – and get him to sign that tattered old cookbook. He took it all with good grace, and had a good time – one abiding memory is Antonio and pinot guru Danny Schuster sitting in the sun telling each other an endless stream of filthy jokes.A few weeks ago I rather cheekily emailed Antonio and asked if he’d be willing to contribute a foreword for The Truffle Book – and he said yes. I have the text sitting in my computer ready to go. His only stipulation? That I send him my first truffle.

With pleasure Antonio. It’s all yours. And if I could hand deliver it and enjoy a meal at Neal Street, I’d love to… All I have to do is find one.


A short note. An apology for a prolonged absence from the web. I’ve been stuffing transparencies into my new Nikon slide scanner and waiting 15 minutes while the computer transforms them into something I can use in the book. I still need to write about Collapse, by Jared Diamond, the visit to the farm by France-based US food writer and teacher Patricia Wells, the beginnings of the truffle season, and other things. I may manage some soon. With luck.