In a little corner of paradise at Chateau Barbebelle, Rognes there lives a man called Alex who hunts for truffles every year. His humble, rustic house and gardens have been lovingly restored and made beautiful, right down to the gorgeous hand made tiles in his kitchen.
The garden is dominated by a giant pig called Jeffrey. Jeffrey is six years old and his first five winters were spent sniffing out truffles and uncovering them with his snout. Jeffrey’s keen sense of smell can detect the slightest whiff of a truffle within several 100 meters of it’s presence. Truffles cannot be planted, and the ones at Alex’s place are completely wild. Rather they can be found just beneath the rich earth’s surface growing in the telltale “witches circle” around small, wild oak trees. The truffle is born when the spore comes into contact with one of the hair-thin rootlets that fan out under an oak, sending out long, very thin filaments that then wrap around the root.
The truffle harvest varies from year to year. When truffles are scarce, which is the case this year, the price goes up even higher than normal. Jeffrey weighs in excess of 400 kilos and is sadly now too heavy to transport. His truffle hunting days are therefore over and so he will live out his retirement in peace, roaming around in piggie heaven.
Naturally with a harvest this valuable Alex had to find a replacement for Jeffrey and it has come in the form of his very bouncy and beautiful white dog. We were lucky enough to be invited along for a truffle hunting outing this week. The season is from now until February and we feel honored to be included in a quintessentially rural french tradition.
After being inspired by Alex and Jeffrey’s passion for truffles, we thought we’d share some of the top truffle and gastronomic related events and tours happening over the holidays here in Provence.
The Grand Truffle Festival in Rognes (This Sunday, December 20th)
On December 20th the charming little village of Rognes will be celebrating truffles, with its Annual Fete de la Truffle featuring 125 stalls of various local produce and gastronomic delights, truffle tastings, vin chaude, music and animals for the children to pet. Starting at 11am.
Hunt Black Truffles in the Hills of the Lubéron
Madeleine Vedel, Traveling Fromagerie, (an American from New York and Michigan) along with her ex-husband Erick, a French chef from Arles, are offering their seasonal culinary and wine tours again near Avignon. Madeleine is returning to Provence for January and February, to lead three winter tours.
For one special week this winter, Madeleine Vedel, Chef Erick Vedel and Friends are delighted to invite you and your favorite people to her home in Avignon for a decadent week of the elusive and pungent black truffle, wine tasting at renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape wineries, hands-on preparation of foie gras, duck confit, along with exploring stunning hill towns and so much more. Take advantage of her holiday 10% off specials with more info here.
Taste new olive oils, sample glorious chocolates and enjoy glorious cheese plates over a warm fire gathered around this Provence kitchen.
Winter Decadence in Provence Tours
Truffles, Foie Gras, Châteaneuf-du-Pape, Chocolate
Dates: January 24-31
Website For More Details
For questions contact Madeleine at: email@example.com
Happy Holidays and truffle tasting everyone!
Joint post by Tarik Koivisto and Rebecca Amer with special thanks to Rebecca for introducing us to the lovely Alex and incredible Jeffrey.