This weekend I was treated to the much-anticipated Truffle Festival Birthday Treat. I'd never tasted a truffle. I also tend to think of trips abroad as something you take a week or fortnight to do. This was to be a whistle-stop weekend in Montpellier leaving Gatwick at Friday lunch time, a day sightseeing and window-shopping in Montpellier on Saturday and a trip to Uzès on the Sunday to learn about truffles and a gourmet tasting lunch before returning home.
The trip was all-too short but very enjoyable and informative. Montpellier is a beautiful city renowned for it's art and culture. Sadly not enough time to take it all in but a glimpse has whetted my appetite to return at greater leisure.
Uzès is a beautiful and ancient village about 60 km from Montpellier. There were stalls selling truffle flavoured eggs, truffle fast-food, truffle oils, mustards and cheeses and all manner of kitchenware associated with the truffle - truffle slicers, knives, truffle plates, spoons, and forks. There were even oak saplings for sale 'guaranteed' to encourage the cultivation of truffles amongst their roots. There was an enormous crowd there. The festival opened with a stately ceremony at mid-day when the Truffle Elders of the Village presented a basket of truffles to be weighed and blessed by the parish priest. There was a demonstration of truffle hunting using terrier dogs, and gourmet dining on sun-drenched terraces. Truffles guaranteed in every course.
The ones grown in Langedoc-Roussillon are a black variety. They looked like an earth-covered knobbly potato to me and I thought they smelt rather earthy but I was to discover this humble tuber attracts awed reverence by truffle aficionados far and wide.
Lunch 'au terroir' was a truffle bonanza - Truffle Champagne, Truffle Velouté, Truffle Carpaccio, Raviolis au Truffle, Boeuf Bourgognoine with Truffle and Truffle Mash. There was even a truffle flavoured cream dessert but I passed on that!
You could say I'm truffled out. Luckily for my bank balance (they're massively expensive) I wouldn't be upset if I never tasted another - but it was a once in a lifetime experience and one I wouldn't have missed for the world. It just goes to show the things we get to do that we'd never have tried had it not been for our diagnosis of a life-limiting disease.