Italy, it is always a destination for a holiday, a vacation with friends, family and even solo trip! It’s been my 3rd time in Italy now, and I’ve been in almost all the big and the famous tourism cities through the years, and now thanks to the job I have, I’ve got the golden chances to experience something more Italian in the small towns and cities, and even country sides. Today, I would like to talk about my truffle hunting tour experience in Arezzo, Tuscany where you will never know the great treasure hidden in this place if you are just searching for “truffle hunting tour” in your browser!

意大利,无论是跟朋友、跟家人又或是独自出游,这个美丽的过度总是有种无穷多的理由成为我的目的地!这已经是我第三次造访这个充满美食和美景的国家了,在过去的几年里,我几乎把意大利的一些旅游盛地踩遍了,却任然,每一次回来都要再“踩”一次;这一次倒是有幸可以深入一些还没有被各大旅行团瞄上的旅游点。今天就来聊一聊我在托斯卡纳大区的寻找松露体验之旅。

First of all, I think not many people, especially people from Asia know a lot about truffle, as an edible product. Truffle is a kind of mushroom which normally grows around some specific type of trees in the wild. In the earlier time, truffle was discovered by chance as a precious culinary ingredient but now, it is already possible to cultivate the environment where black truffle likes to grow, however, the very precious white truffle is still remained in wild. The most famous truffle in the world are French black winter truffle and Italian white winter truffle. How precious they are? “Diamond in the kitchen” is the nickname of them and thousands of euro per kilo is just an estimated price every year, and in the business world, the trading price of Italian white winter truffle can be varied even twice a day – pretty much like stock market! Well, now you think truffle must be a product that not everyone can afford? Answer is NO. In Tuscany area, they can find all five types of truffle that have culinary value and among these types, black summer truffle, which are normally harvested from late May till late August, are very price-friendly and for most of Italian families, to cook with black summer truffle is a normal kitchen activity. That morning in May, my truffle tour is exactly about searching for those black summer truffle in the woods.

再介绍当天的体验之旅之前,我觉得有必要跟大家来个知识普及。关于松露,相信大部分人并不是很清楚松露到底是怎样一种食用产品,也许你听说松露是很贵很稀有的产品,但其实那只是关于松露的一部分。首先,松露是菌菇类的一种,通常生长在特定树木品种的树根周围,白松露到目前为止都只能野外采集,故此尤为稀有和尊贵,而二战之后,法国人已经开始摸透黑松露的栽培经验,所以目前黑松露的栽培是存在的,然而松露的栽培有所不同,栽培的不是松露,而是能提供松露生长的树林环境,所以栽培的其实是大量的特定的树木啦!既然说到稀有,必然联想到价格昂贵,到底有多尊贵呢?欧洲人给松露起了个别名“厨房里的钻石”,而每年著名的松露拍卖会上,一千克尊贵冬季白松露的价格可以高达几千欧元,而在贸易行业,冬季白松露的批发价每天都在变化,甚至有的是上午一个价,下午一个价,好比股票市场了!好啦,现在你一定要说,松露这么贵,不是一般老百姓能享受的了,说来何用!其实并不如此,白松露固然尊贵,但意大利托斯卡纳大区却可以找到全部五种有食用价值的松露品种,而且中夏季黑松露最为常见,价格也最亲民。在意大利,它可是几乎家家都能用来烹调松露菜肴的食材。我这次的体验之旅恰好在五月里,正是夏季黑松露开始丰收的时候。

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_truffle hunting tool

Around 10 in the morning, we gathered at the factory of Boscovivo which is the famous truffle brand in Arezzo and also the organizer of this truffle hunting tour. I’ve got another 3 guests in the tour who’re actually travelling from States to Italy for a relaxing trip with only mother and daughters, lovely! The owner of Boscovivo, daughter of the brand founders, the second generation to run this family business, is the private driver as well as the chef for us today! Our destination for truffle hunting activity actually varies according to the season and the real truffle harvest situation, of course, some very precious and secret truffle hunting locations still remained unfolded to the tourists. When we arrive at the place, the truffle hunter with his two hunting dogs has waited for us. To our surprise, the truffle hunter is already 90 plus years old and his two dogs are just too cute comparing to our imagination of a “hunting” dog. Before entering into the woods, we were introduced the basic knowledge about truffle in the world and in Italy, truffle nutrition value, the truffles growing in Tscany region in Italy as well as the story about our truffle hunter and his dogs. During this 10 minute casual talk, my jeans have been printed by these two cutties, and they’ve got very good sense to camera all the time, to give you the best angle and smile. I hope the hunter won’t be jealous that I only take pictures for his dogs, not him!

那一大早(其实已经是10点啦)我和另外来自美帝的母女三人在寻找松露体验之旅的组织者兼松露品牌Boscovivo的厂房集合。品牌的创始人的女儿兼经理是我们当天的向导加私人司机加大厨,要去的地点也是当季决定的,原因就在于松露生长的地点会有变化,而一些特别珍贵的林区一般不给旅游观赏之用。当我们来到目的地,一头白发的老爷爷已经等在树荫下,手里拽着一把类似镰刀的长柄,脚边则是两条可爱到不行的猎犬(可爱的模样完全跟想象中的猎犬扯不上关系!)。进入树林之前,当然会有一段关于意大利松露、松露的营养和食用价值、托斯卡纳大区的松露以及松露猎人和猎狗的简短介绍,期间,我的牛仔裤已经印上不少爪印了,两条猎狗实在是太有爱,还特别有镜头感,照相机一对准,立刻眨眼咧嘴笑,抢尽老爷爷的镜头。

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_enter into woods

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_start hunting

Lead by the little hunters running like thunder, we were almost running into the woods. Just after the first 5 minute, we had been starting to harvest fresh black summer truffle from under the ground. The dog crazily dig into the soil around tree roots, and once its head was up, the hunter rushed to its mouth and grabbed the truffle out right from the mouth by his bare fingers. WOW! That’s how to hunt the truffle! The fresh truffle from the land looks pretty intact with a size similar to Ferrero chocolate. With hunter’s special language to the dogs, those two cutties were running back and forth in the woods happily while after only 20 minutes, we’ve already harvested quite a good amount of truffles, maybe 20 or 30 pieces?

随即我们便深入树林,两条猎狗是撒了欢的狂奔出去,基本上是没有要等人的意思了。刚进入树荫的那五分钟里,猎狗已经开始围着树根一阵刨,岁数已经上了9字头的老爷爷倒是利索过我们这些年轻人,一个箭步上去,还没来得及看清楚,手里已经握着两颗带着点干泥巴的黑松露了。新鲜出炉的松露相当完整,大小类似一个费力罗巧克力般。老人家冲着狗狗吆喝几句,两条猎狗又急蹿出去,不一会又是三两个,我们在林里转悠了将近20分钟就已经是收获满满。

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_digging

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_capture truffle from dog mouth

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_save truffle from the dog mouth

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_first harvest

Running after the dogs in the woods and grabbing the fresh truffle from dogs’ mouthes, well, you might think it’s quite easy right? Actually, it all depends on the years’ experience and practice between the hunters and his dogs. For the hunters, no one will tell them where you can find truffle or even possibly you can find truffle, so that means, all the hunters need to explore in the wild and search by their experience and sometimes, feeling. Once they’ve discovered some good spots, they will try to memorize the locations so that in the next season or next year, they will bring their dogs back to the place again. The exploring takes great time and effort year after year, and all the spots are very precious and secret, truffle hunters are mostly solo workers, and they are mostly in their late ages. Mentioning the animals people train to search for the truffle, you might hear about pigs! Yes, pigs can do the job, but they won’t be as ideal as your dog friend as they will eat the truffle straight away. Well, we cannot avoid the most natural character of a pig right? The training starts when it is still a puppy, and as training goes on, the hunting dogs will show their different skills, as some of them can only find one or two type of truffle, while some small group of dogs could find all types! Because of this, the value of a hunting dog is also different but in general, they are super expensive (few thousand of euro as minimum price). In Italy, there is also regulation for truffle hunting activities, for example the truffle hunter can only bring maximum 2 dogs with him every time and the total harvest weight cannot exceed a certain number, and the truffle hunting activity can be only done between sunrise and sunset, etc.

觉得松露猎人的工作还挺容易的?其实不然。原来,松露猎人和猎狗的配合一定要达到无间才能收获不错的野生松露。首先松露猎人在积年累月的松露搜寻过程中,已经知道每一年哪些树林,甚至是少有人去的山区会有大量松露生长,其次通常挖到松露的点就代表来年也很有可能会在挖到松露,因此他们需要在茫茫树林中记住每一次挖到松露的地点,这也是为什么大部分的松露猎人都是年纪相当高的白发老人,而因为竞争的关系,通常松露猎人都是独自一人的!大家可能听说人们训练猪来搜寻松露,但其实大部分的猪找到松露的那一瞬间就已经把松露吞入肚子里了,所以猎狗相对更可靠一些。幼犬在刚出生的时候就会拿来做松露猎犬的训练,让它们从小就已经熟悉松露的味道,而等到稍大一点,猎狗对于搜寻松露的明锐度就会体现出来,有的狗狗只能闻到一种松露的味道,而有的狗狗却可以在野外找到所有的松露品种,因为如此,松露猎犬的身价可不一般!在意大利,对于搜寻和采集松露有着一套规章制度,比如松露猎人每一次最多只能带两条猎狗、每一次丰收的松露不可以超过一定重量、采集松露只能从日出到日落等等。

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_try truffle hunting

I mentioned the way how truffle hunter caught the truffle from dog’s mouth right? Well, it isn’t easy as it looks. Basically, you have to do it as fast as possible so that the precious truffle won’t be broken and destroyed by dogs’ sharp teeth. As the hunting tour going, little dogs tried to cheat on us by eating the truffle they’ve found immediately without noticing us, good boy! That’s your extra reward of hard working! During the tour, actually you can also try to grab truffle from dog’s mouth as well as to bury some truffle randomly around the tree to challenge our little friends. Well, we were 100% beaten by their professional hunting skill. May is the beginning of black summer truffle’s harvest season. By observing the fresh truffle we’ve got that morning, we were introduced some knowledge about the different mature stages of truffle, the broken truffle and even the extreme case how a truffle damaged by insect eggs would be like.

跟着老爷爷在树林里转悠之余,我们也实打实得看到松露猎人是怎么从猎狗嘴里抢下出土松露的!简单来说就是去,还要快、狠、准,要不然猎狗的牙齿就有可能磨坏一颗完整的松露,而这样不完整甚至是破碎的松露,卖的价格就不怎么好了;当然在体验之旅的最后,猎狗也会耍坏,趁大家不注意,一口把挖出来的松露给吞了的情况也不少,小家伙,就当是一路劳累的酬劳了。同行的女孩也真是胆大,也学着从狗嘴里抢松露,还抢到了!期间,我们也有试过把找来的松露埋在任意一棵树底下,考验两条猎犬的本事,结果当然也是被猎犬完胜的。五月头的夏季黑松露处于刚丰收的阶段,我们也有幸听到如何分辨即将成熟、成熟和过度成熟的松露,以及一些松露被咬坏、挖坏甚至是被下了蚊子卵的行业知识。

The whole truffle hunting in the woods takes around 1.5 hours, and we visited the factory afterwards. In the factory, we were introduced to the different process how truffle is handled from purchasing from a truffle hunter till being shipped out to a customer. The process includes a lot of filtering, checking, and washing which until today, they still keep hand-by-hand activities in some very important steps. Surprisingly, we were also told that every shipment of fresh truffle needs to pass the 3rd party’s checking and authorization. How much workload it has?!

整个搜寻松露的过程大概在一个半小时左右,驱车返回厂房便是一个简单的厂房参观之旅。其中包括每个丰收季度与松露猎人的即场交易不同松露品种的介绍,筛选、分类、清洗新鲜松露的过程,厂房里不同机械的展示以及其作用,同时也再次了解到意大利对于松露生产的严格规定和监管,要知道每次出口一批新鲜松露,工厂都需要介绍政府派来的专家的检验才行。

Around 1pm, it finally comes the lunch time. We were seated in Boscovivo’s showroom where a full lunch table has already been set up with dishes of truffle appetizers and prosecco. Right in front of us is the small cooking station where the owner will be the chef and show us some easy truffle recipes to be taken away and also prepared the hot dishes with all the fresh truffle we’ve found that morning. Truffle is precious food ingredient which can create great dishes however, to know the different characters and how to cook them is critical otherwise, you will just waste it. The most basic thing I’ve learnt is black truffle is born to be warmed up for better truffle flavor while white truffle has to be eaten in raw. As the lunch going on, we’ve served also warm appertizers before first and second main courses, as well as the wonderful truffle dessert! My favorite is truffle acacia honey, perfect match to the truffle cheese or toast!

To list a few truffle products we’ve tried during the lunch:

  • Fresh black summer truffle (warmed up)
  • Black truffle sauce
  • Carpaccio (Black truffle slice in extra virgin olive oil)
  • White truffle acacia honey
  • Truffle salami
  • Truffle cheese

When we finished lunch, the clock has closed to 3pm, it’s time for an Italian espresso to close the whole tour!

临近下午一点已是午餐的时间,整个寻找松露体验之旅的重点之一便是现场展示的松露宴,期间品牌负责人也会亲自充当大厨,用上早上新鲜出土的松露,现场展示和传授几个松露的烹饪食谱,当然也有关于如何烹饪和食用不同黑白松露的贴士,比如,黑松露一般需要加热食用以发挥期松露的特有风味,而白松露则不可加热,需要直接食用。大厨在一边忙乎,而我们则相当享受的饮酒作乐,进入正式的午餐之前,满桌的松露小食(前菜)外加当地的气泡葡萄酒已经让大家半饱,其中个个都是我的爱,不过最爱要属用上上乘蜂蜜和白松露做出来的松露蜂蜜,配松露芝士或者吐司面包来吃,我们是停不了手了。

午餐期间我们所品尝的松露产品大致包含以下一些:

  • 新鲜夏季黑松露(加热烹饪)
  • 黑松露酱
  • 黑松露片(浸泡在特级初榨橄榄油里)
  • 白松露洋槐蜂蜜
  • 松露腊肠
  • 松露芝士

。。。

饱餐一顿之后已是下午三点,最后来上一杯意式espresso,为整个搜寻松露体验之旅画上完美句号。

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_truffle recipe

truffle hunting with Boscovivo_truffle pasta

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