Truffle Hunting in Italy

Wild Food foraging takes on many forms.

Looking for mushrooms in the northern hemisphere forests is something I have come to know and really enjoy.
Thanks to some very well informed friends and competitors from various LWFC events, I have learned  about fungi foraging in a few different ways.
Yesterday we were introduced to Luca and his daughter Martine, local truffle hunters in the Roero area of Piemonte.
They, along with Willie the truffle dog, took us for an amazing walk through a forest valley, famous for its Alba truffles.
Lucas team are highly trained and completely dedicated to finding Truffles.
After a briefing on the area, the dogs and the mysterious truffle in general, we were off up the track for a hunt.
300 m into it and Willie had his nose and paws into a hole beside an oak tree and fished up our first truffle. Black summer truffle.
Slightly less pungent than the white (autumn) truffle, but delicious and luxurious none the less.
Amazing to watch the dog in action as he repeated this wonder three more times.
We made our way out to Lucas hut in the forest and were treated to various truffle focused Piemonte snacks and dark Barbera wine as we pored over the bounty.
The rusticity of the experience seems so far removed from the starched table cloths and Michelin starred dining rooms of cities around the world where these nuggets of black gold are most often encountered.
Unforgettable Forage.
Thank you Luca and your family.

Verduno Foraging

One of the treats of holding Local Wild Food events is getting together with knowledgeable locals and being shown the best of their edible bounty.

Yesterday I took a walk through some organic vineyards in Barbaresco with Alessandra from Castello Di Verduno.
She has a wealth of knowledge on the wild plants of the area and is very generous with sharing information and stories with me.


Foraging in Verduno
We took a basket with knife, plate, olive oil, vinegar and flake salt into the rows of vines, which have been left untouched since pruning to allow the wild plants to grow, enrich and balance the soil.
This vineyards organic approach is a boon for us as foragers as we literally walk through a salad waiting to be harvested.
The names of all the herbs and flowers began to boggle my mind, as the basket filled with 20 or more types of plants.Sorrel, chickweed, wild spinach, mache, chicory, accacia, rose and dandelion all made it in along with heaps of other delicious greens.

Moving slowly as foraging demands you do, we came across tracks of wild boar and deer which move about the area eating the same goodies.
We stopped and made a salad amongst the vines dressed with good salt, olive oil and a few drops of vinegar. These cut and balance the bitter greens and sweet flowers to form a fantastic tasting salad, all free to collect while taking a walk.

Foraging in Verduno 2
Feral cherry trees provided a bit of sweet fruit on the way back to the car as a bonus ingredient – as if we needed one.

Expecting to see plenty of these delicious, fresh greens and salads at the challenge on Sunday!