Over at Agate, we decided to celebrate with the savory version of National Truffle Day! We’re showing our appreciation for the delectable mushrooms with this excerpt from Provence Food and Wine.
The black truffle has its own history and tales. It is the stuff of pleasure and dreams!
A mysterious mushroom shrouded in legend, the black truffle (Tuber melanosporum; rabasse or rabasso negro in Provençal) thrives in the hills of Haute Provence, amidst its limestone soils and on truffle oaks. They are often called Périgord truffles after a region in southwestern France, but Provence is actually the main producer of black truffles. They are undeniably the most aromatic and flavorful of the 32 varieties of European truffles.
In the hills of Provence, the rabasse dominates, quickly taking over whatever tree it has chosen as its home. In the spring, its spores and seeds gather around the roots of oak and hazel trees, slowly forming a concentric zone in which little else survives. The rabasse grows there for a year, in the shade of its loving tree, attached to the roots, before it is harvested.
Winter is truffle season, and truffle hunters comb the hills daily, often accompanied by a well-trained pig or dog that can sniff out the black treasures. The truffles are sold at the markets in Aips, Apt, or Carpentras, attracting both professional chefs and amateur gourmets who hope to get their hands on some of these delicious treasures.
To make the most delectable truffle tartines (crostinis de truffe), grill slices of crusty bread and shave black truffle over them. A drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of fleur de sel or coarse Camargue sea salt complete a most delectable apéritif!