The Black Truffle
The soil of Drôme Sud Provence holds a treasure the whole world covets: The Black Truffle, or Tuber Melanosporum.
You really are HERE, on ground propitious to the development of this famous and much sought-for «Black Diamond». Tuber Melanosporum, the Queen of Black truffles.
You can meet people working the land such as truffle farmers, professionals, chefs… all passionate and fascinating…
During truffle season, which runs from mid-November to mid-March, you can buy it fresh, or enjoy it at restaurants.
Its flavour displays great, heady, aromatic complexity, with animal aromas from undergrowths. It is a constant challenge for Chefs, who stretch their imagination to make this noble produce taste always delicious, without ever misusing it. She is a delicate and beautiful lady, our black truffle, and has to be prepared with care. One of the rules is that it must not be overheated.
Omelets, “brouillade” (with scrambled eggs), “croc en sel”(raw), ravioli, cardoons, cheese and many other specialities can be tasted, enough to suit all tastes !
Your senses of smell and taste will feel enthralled, lifted by the aromas and flavours: rare, unique, and inimitable.
If you wish to learn more about this emblematic produce after it has aroused your curiosity and pleasure of eating, nothing comes close to visiting the village of Saint Paul Trois Châteaux, which has received the title of “Site Remarquable du Goût” a site of outstanding value for food connoisseurs.
Start your exploration with Maison de La Truffe et du Tricastin. The museology is fun and very informative, and shows the path to the fascinating and mysterious world of Black Truffles… You will learn that it relies on permeable limestone soil and a host: the faithful oak. It comes to life around oaks from April to June/July before being harvested (cavée) by a Rabassié from November to March. Keep in mind that the famous “Fête de la Truffe” takes place there, every second Sunday of February. A signed hiking trail named ‘La Truffière Historique’ is yet another opportunity to delve deeper into the subject thanks to the descriptive signs which are set along the path created in this untouched natural area. You will learn all there is to know about truffles or “Rabasse” !
Then, during a “cavage” session, which is when a truffle farmer organises harvesting, you will hear French words you did not learn at school – rabasse, fuggi, musette, cadéou, etc, and have the chance to observe the very special bond formed between the farmer and his dog ! Indeed, Truffle farmers pick truffles under the loving eye of their dog, entirely devoted to their master, devoted also to finding the truffles and… to the treat !
The dog is encouraged by the Rabassié : “Go on lad, find it, where is it ? ” IT being the truffle. Nose to the ground, the dog looks for the specific scent of “La Rabasse” and shows the spot with its paw. The farmer then digs truffles out with a “fuggi” (a tool used to dig the ground) before placing them into a musette (satchel), without forgetting the treat awaited by the expectant accomplice…. Such cuteness !
Your immersion will be complete once you have been to the truffle market (Marché des Trufficulteurs) in Saint Paul Trois Châteaux. It is the place where you find local truffles of certified origin, harvested that week, every Sunday morning from mid-December to mid-March. Local truffle farmers display their truffles, brushed, selected and verified by the Control board. Each truffle is checked with a knife for quality before the market opens, when the trumpet is blown ! This market is open to all, it is not reserved to professionals and it guarantees quality. You can buy truffles with your eyes closed !
Admire the ‘black diamonds’ around the fountain, carefully displayed on the stands. Some are presented in baskets on chequered tea towels, others are stored in airtight jars – when the lid is lifted the precious scent is offered for visitors to smell.
There you will see the Rabassiés (harvesters) grumble about how their Cadéou (young dog) was not in a mood for truffle hunting that week, because he or she could pick up the scent of a wild boar near the truffle woods.
You will also see truffle farmers giving advice to buyers on how to preserve and prepare the Black Diamond. You may also get the recipe for the famous truffle butter found on many restaurant tables of the region…
And to end on a high note, do not miss out on the « Cabane aux Ravioles » or “ravioli hut”, where enthusiastic volunteers serve the legendary « Ravioles aux Truffes » and a glass of local wine in a friendly atmosphere.
This is the ambience of La Rabasse: now you know the Black Diamond inside out…