Markets, truffles and food

I haven’t got time to post any of the pictures from the last week, or to really do justice to events or meals – not tonight, at least – but I would like to mention vultures. In two truffle expeditions in Spain last week, in the Alto Tajo national park and in the hills not far from Pamplona, vultures were wheeling over head while we watched men and dogs find truffles. I was ready for the truffles, but the birds were something of a shock.

In the latter truffiere, in the unpronounceable but charming village of Ollogoyen, the lead truffle dog was called Lycos – “because she’s a search engine”. Perhaps Peg’s successor will be called Google. Sponsorship possibilities…

Some food highlights: the Spanish take on black pudding – a sort of blood sausage without the skin; the mushroom lunch which finished with a “coffee” made from Trompettes de mort macerated with sweet coffee, with a cappuccino foam made from porcini cream (and the chef looked like Peter Sellers); and a truffle omelette in a modest auberge in Cahors that had more good truffle in it than most five course truffle dinners. It helps when France’s leading truffle wholesaler is sitting at the same table and picking up the tab.

In France, we’ve seen the new truffieres of the Richelieu region just south of the Loire, the famous truffle market of Lalbenque, the Pebeyre truffle operation in Cahors, and been shepherded around local truffieres by top French truffle expert Pierre Sourzat and his dog Bou-Bou. I also have 80gm of truffle in the minibar in my hotel room, by way of a present for my kind hosts in London.

Tonight we dine chez Pebeyre, and I suspect truffle may be involved. Tomorrow we drive to Barcelona, and dinner with an American truffle importer on her yacht in the harbour. Then London and NZ. I have to say that I’m looking forward to getting back to my family and my trees. And losing some weight.

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