I always thought Truffle Hunts were sort of a joke. You go to the forest with a bunch of eager puppies to look for truffles planted there the morning of. Sort of like finding the Matzah during Passover, except for the forest, and eager part. The only way to get my kids to look for Matzah these days is if we plant a white truffle along with it. So after all those trips to Italy including Piedmont, I never imagined that I would get my truffle hunt certificate in Croatia. Husband, Father, Lover of Pizza, Tour Guide, Truffle Hunter. My tomb stone is starting to resemble the Stanley Cup.
Did they plant them? I dont have the slightest idea. Was it fun? You bet ya! Its not just about the hunt, but the entire experience. During the hunt I was honestly more concerned about dodging dog poop than look for truffles in that terrain (they were VERY eager). Black truffle terrain turns out is tougher to maneuver than white truffle. And when you train those puppies to eat what they find, you have to be on your toes. Or go with a qualified truffle hunter like Ivan Karlic, the grandson of the guy who started it all 50 years ago.
We learned the ins and outs of the hunt including the difference between teaching them to eat it vs bring it to you. And how male dogs are just too horny for this kind of work. In addition to the main Motovun forest where licensed guides roam around, the Karlic family also owns their own groves where hazelnut trees will start producing truffles 7 years after planting. Meanwhile today, exhausted city slickers turned hunters pick fresh cherries out of the groves and pose for selfies.
If the hunt was exhilarating, the meal before the hunt was pure ecstasy. If humans would poses similar instincts to those dogs, I imagine it would have been very easy to train us to find truffles. We would even carry the bonus of not eating everything we find, and clean our own poop. They start you with truffle brandy, and end with truffle Nutella, with truffle salami and truffle cheese in between. Along with truffle oil (real, not perfume), truffle cream and truffle honey available for you just in case you want more truffle. And did I mention the Truffle Scrambled eggs. Let me see.. I dont think I did. Butter is mixed in with finely shredded black truffles and eggs before finishing with more shredded truffles. The result is what wet dreams are made of. If Karlic decides to use that saying in their brochure or website, I allow it.
My office is undergoing major renovations. Last week it was time to shut down the bathrooms and start using the bathrooms on the 6th floor again as we’ve done in the past (normally when people decide to flush their belongings and clog the toilets). Problem is the 6th bathrooms now require a key. So we were given 2 keys attached to pocket size keychains that we can use and put back in the jar when we come back. Apparently that concept proved a little too much for some of my co-workers and both keys were lost by the morning of the next day. Solution: Attach the key to a binder. So here we are walking with the blue binders all the day long. Everyone suddenly looked busier and more professional to other office workers from other offices. Except that our binders were totally empty and we were not heading to any meetings.
The binder experiment failed rather quickly after we realized it was a little awkward and we suddenly were short on binders. Enter.. Disco Sticks. Like the ones they handed to you at the last Bar Misvah right after the oversize glasses and the hats. The bathroom keys are now attached to flashy glowing disco sticks. So picture this, while all the female employees enjoy the luxury of being able to use a small keychain, the male employees are walking around with flashy disco sticks. Other offices are starting to notice that as well.. “What are they doing with those sticks” “Is he just happy to see me”. “No, he’s going to the bathroom”, “and no one can be this happy to see you Betty”. Its embarrassing. Sometimes we, grown men, have to go in groups (single file) because we only have 2 sticks. Feels like a tour guide leading his group to the bathroom.
The worst feeling is when you need to go to the bathroom before a long meeting and there are no sticks to be found. Or you have been texting your way into a high level meeting, not realizing you just showed up carrying one of the disco sticks, in flashing mode (there’s a switch that turns it on, and the frequency of the flashing). “That’s probably the guy that lost the keychains” you can hear then whispering. Actually the worst part is when you sitting in the bathroom and hear keyless people trying to get in. At that point you feel the need to stop your Candy Crush and start rushing things. A recipe for popped veins and Hemorrhoids as I see it.
Piedmont cant come soon enough is what I’m trying to say. I should have timed this trip better to avoid all this. In about a month time, with the help of my disco stick, I will be leading a group of 2 out in the rolling hills of the Langhe and visiting the legendary Truffle festival in Alba before moving on to Emilia Romagna. I’m seeing reports of 30 euros per shaving which is much higher than I originally anticipated and much higher than shavings of black truffles we’ve enjoyed in the past (apples to oranges but still). At the NoMad last year I paid $34. Truffle season is also here in NYC btw. Marta will have them sometime this week or next (you may be able to shave them over eggs and pizza) and the Nomad, Maialino and the rest of the gang joining soon in the action. But I will wait out the month truffle free.
You know those cable commercials “Don’t wake up in a roadside ditch, switch to cable“. Don’t get Hemorrhoids, go to Piedmont!