Summer is tailing off into autumn, the nights are drawing in, and thoughts are turning to the winter truffle season. Last weekend, the amazingly charming Peg had her first refresher course of the year – just a quick sniff to see if she remembered what she was supposed to be doing.
I have four 35mm film canisters with pierced lids in the freezer. Each contains a chunk of last year’s truffle. All I did was bury them a couple of inches down in the soil around four trees, and leave them there for an hour or two to develop some scent. Then I ran through Peg’s pre-hunt routine: on with the collar and lead, a couple of strips of Schmakos as treats stuffed into a pocket (she spots that unerringly), grab a trowel fromthe garage, and then we walk down to the truffière. We get to the trees, I tell her to start sniffing, and off she goes. She finds all four in about three minutes – too easy. Next time I’ll have to make her work harder, perhaps by scattering the baits over a larger area. But it was good to see that she remembered what her job is. All I need now is some reassurance that the real things are forming in the brulées round the trees. My appendages are crossed.