My partner and I love fine wines and good food. And we are pretty heavy on 'stuff', so for Christmas gifts I always like to treat my better half to an experience - ideally involving some culture, food, physical activity and travel. After previous tasting trips to Champagne and cooking courses in Paris, I decided a truffle hunt was the way to go this past Christmas - and it didn't disappoint. I came across Las Pastras on TripAdvisor and booked, then rebooked and chopped & changed 3 times due to work commitments. Thankfully our hosts were accommodating and flexible (or maybe just used to people like us) and we eventually made it to Provence on the last weekend for truffle hunting towards the end of February. There was a mistral wind blowing despite some sunshine, so thankfully we were well wrapped up.
We knew we were going to someone's home and that the home was in a rural environment, so others making the trip should bear this in mind. It's not luxury, in the full five star sense, but it is truly lovely :-) Johann met us up his lane after our Google Maps app took us exactly to his almost secret home location. We heard the stories of why it is secret - and I don't want to spoil the visit for anyone else who comes, but think Peter Mayle-like stories of local suspicion and conspiracy around such simple things as food (albeit a very expensive foodstuff in terms of the fruits of this precious 'terre'). We then met the dogs - Madeline the elder female was definitely the boss, and we followed their noses to the roots of the oaks to seek out and find the precious cargo of what was almost 1kg of truffles.
After 3 hours of walking, talking and learning about birds, bees, organic farming and the Provençal way of life, we got down to some eating and Champagne quaffing alongside truffles with cheese, truffles with bread and butter and much more! Thankfully, there are not volumes and tomes of info like a wine trip, so I don’t think we’ll forget the info like we have done after visiting wine regions, because truffle farming is a lot about skill, but even more so about a lucky set of natural circumstances. Plus, Johann really welcomed questions of all types - and I was full of them! This trip was a pleasure - and we left owning (or adopting) an oak tree with the promise of an annual batch of our own truffles for dinner parties at home! It was a wonderful learning experience and not one we’ll forget quickly.
Later that night we ate in a delicious Michelin star restaurant but the next day we burned a good bit of it all off with a dynamic trek to the summit of Mont Sainte Victoire... This is most definitely a trip for foodies and those willing to learn.
Read about the rest of our French antics here on the blog…