I’m so overwhelmed. This week I celebrated a significant birthday with more than a little help from my friends. Over a long and lively lunch my gorgeous girlfriends presented me with the perfect gift. My very own truffle tree, growing in its own 20 square metres of land in a truffiere at Le Gers (Gascony). Nestled in the foothills of The Pyrenees in south west rural France, home of those highly sought after black diamonds, Perigord truffles. Thoughtful, generous and a real conversation piece.
I love the romance behind the idea of the gift. I’ve been smiling ever since. My very own, albeit infinitesimally small piece of France. Sitting here, thousands of miles away in Australia, I’m imagining a trip to France complete with a picnic under my tree. And perhaps another long, leisurely lunch in six or so years with those same girlfriends. Replete with my very own freshly harvested truffles.
In the coming days I will be choosing my tree, a Downy Oak (Quercus pubescens) or Holm Oak (Quercus lex) inoculated with the spores of the French Black Truffle (Tuber melanosporum) aka the famous Black Perigord Truffle. Now here is where this gift becomes interesting. Any truffles that eventually appear in the plot will be mine. I’ll have the option of having my harvested truffles mailed to me for my enjoyment, or sold on my behalf. I can also choose to spread my risk by pooling my truffles with other owners in the truffiere. Of course there is no guarantee that my plot will yield truffles. Highly desirable and expensive, they’re notoriously difficult to grow, requiring specialised skills and knowledge. When all is said and done I’m more than happy to leave the growing and harvesting to the experts and their hounds, allowing me the freedom to revel in the romantic possibilities of my gift.
Yesterday I received a delightful email from Dick Pyle and his daughter Hannah from Truffle Tree welcoming me to their truffiere in Gascony:
I hope that your tree gives you many years of enjoyment and that you will visit it from time to time to encourage it to produce truffles and to explore this wonderful unspoilt and unknown area of France. For gastronomes we offer artisanal foie gras, ham from the fabulous Gascony black pig, superb rare-breed lamb, wild boar and venison plus wines from one of the world’s great winemakers and the finest brandy, Armagnac; and they are all on our doorstep. Best of all the producers are our friends. We look forward to welcoming you to Le Gers and Le Gardian very soon so that you can discover our fortified villages, stunning countryside, churches and cathedrals.
I’d like to thank my girlfriends for their incredible friendship, wonderful generosity and thoughtful gift. May it be bountiful and bear truffles. What a fabulous way to celebrate a milestone birthday. It really is the gift that keeps on giving. To learn more about the trufferie I highly recommend a virtual visit to Truffle Tree’s website www.truffle-tree.com. Perhaps you, too, may become the proud owner of your very own truffle tree in Gascony.