FORAGING FOR TREASURE...
On a beautiful sunny and crisp Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago, Mr. W and I made our way to a 'secret location' in Sussex to meet foraging expert Melissa and her two truffle hounds Zeb the Labrador and Ella the Cocker Spaniel.
Our treasure hunting was of course for Wild Truffle! While French and Italian truffles are famous, English truffles are less well known but still prized for their culinary value. It was black truffles that we were searching for, and this beautiful beach forest with its chalky soil, promised a good chance of success.
Truffles are a type of fungus that attaches itself to the root systems of certain trees, with both truffle and tree relying and benefitting from one another.
Melissa explained to us the importance of respecting the ecosystem and not over foraging any one area.
These beautiful dogs have been trained from first born, to recognise the smell of truffles. Within no time, they were both enthusiastically sniffing around and obviously loving their environment.
After a short while, Zeb the Labrador was concentrating on one spot and pawing the ground. We were told to be quick to stop him before he ate any prized truffle....apparently his favourite treat!
Carefully scraping the earth away, we could not believe what was there....an exciting moment to find that first treasure.
This one was a beauty and a very good size!
Next was little Ella the Cockerspaniel, who had a different style of hunting. When on the scent, she would dig enthusiastically and then look towards her mistress to signal having found something. It really was fascinating to watch!
A happy few hours passed, walking in the winter sunshine, and taking in a lunch time picnic.
Happy dogs enjoying their day too.
An informative and fun day in beautiful countryside and feeling close to nature...
And as we made our way back to the cars, thoughts turned to what we were going to cook with our tasty truffles. Quite a haul which was divided between the five of us.
A day in the fresh air with plenty of exercise, certainly builds up the appetite! It was a treat to put my feet up and watch my boys cook for me....
And the mushroom and truffle pasta was absolutely delicious!
PS. If you are interested in joining Melissa on one of her truffle or mushroom hunting courses, she can be contacted via the website at www.truffleandmushroomhunter.com