The Secret Life of Truffles
Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours
Earlier this week we enjoyed a fabulous anniversary dinner at a lovely Inn about an hour away from our Aix en Provence home – one mouth-watering course after another! One of our favorites was melt-in-your-mouth veal napped with a deeply flavored truffle au jus. It brought to mind previous truffle experiences in the south of France, such as the time we took a client to the annual January truffle fair – here’s the tale:
We’re heading north, to truffle land, to fulfill our client, Chef Kim’s, desire to experience the Friday morning Truffle Market in Carpentras. January is prime time for the mysterious funghi, and the buyers and sellers have gathered in front of the Hôtel Dieu on this chill misty morning.Bags and berets are de rigueur (obligatory),and the conversation muted as the hunters open their bags to show off their bounty.The inner courtyard opens for business, and in the foyer we see a lady with baskets of truffles and flyers advertising Truffe de Luberon.She’s the wife of Geo, with whom we went on a truffle hunt in a previous January! She asks which dogs we went hunting with, and Kirk pulls out his iPhone and shows her photos – “oh it’s Bulot – and there’s my house!”
You would think that the air would be positively infused with the earthy scent of all of these truffles, but it’s so cold you have to get your nose right into the basket to get a whiff. The wooden mandolins on the right are truffle slicers.The starting whistle blows and sellers enter the inner courtyard, carefully opening their bags on the tables.Buyers surround and sniff and hold the “black diamonds“,moving from one seller to another to check out the bounty.No truffles for us today, but Kim purchases a burlap truffle bag to remember the experience.Shivering after all this time outdoors, we eagerly enter Bar La Civette and order café crèmes and croissants for all. Is this the best café we’ve ever had, or is it just that it’s such a welcome warmer?
The negotiations that started across the street are completed in the bar, and my head whips around in the middle of a sentence, seeking the source of the sudden earthy scent that’s wafted under my nose – the warmth makes the fragrance of the truffles much more apparent. We watch as Serge (on the right – of Chez Serge, truffle restaurant extraordinaire), chooses the best for his kitchen. He hands us a flyer for the restaurant, encouraging us to give him a call and come for a truffle feast. We’ll have to save that for another day, as we make our way back to Aix, savoring the memory of the black diamonds of Provence.
|The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) is that we’re interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.|
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
Since 2003 we’ve hosted Music and Markets tours in France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, England and Spain, and in 2019 added Wonder Tours with a more intentional concentration on art and architecture, local culture, food and wine, and less time dedicated to concert-going.We also design and host custom private tours – previous locations include many French, Spanish, British and Italian regions.
Between our music-related travels, we enjoy our home in the south of France. While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups, Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over forty years of teaching and performance experience.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.
I can practically smell the truffles (and the fresh croissants). Lovely post, Anne. It reminded me of a charming film about hunting truffles in the Piedmont region of Italy. It’s called “The Truffle Hunters” and can be viewed on Amazon Prime: https://www.primevideo.com/detail/The-Truffle-Hunters/0SYYRO6VSCP5E7WCGQJCAW130P