Truffle hunting in Millesimo and eating truffles in Osteria il Castello
After the great morning in Finale Ligure where we picked up olives and tasted home-made products in Sacone house, we transferred to Millesimo town for our night special plan – truffle hunting.
You will maybe laugh but I had never seen truffles in my life before so I had no idea what it was to do truffle hunting and why it was even called hunting. I like nice surprises so I did not even look it up to get a real experience.
The sun was settling down when we got to Millesimo, put on a few layers of clothes to protect against the breeze and together with our local professional truffle hunters we headed up to the woods. Every hunter has his own dog who is trained to hunt truffles following its strong smell.
Truffle (called tartufo in Italian) is a mushroom living under the surface, usually close to trees. Black and white truffles are among the hundreds of truffle species and exactly the 2 species we were able to hunt in Millesimo.
Truffles can be found only in certain areas around the world, with the biggest concentration of them in France, Spain and Northern Italy and then sold to other countries. Being so rare, the truffle price is high and depends on the period of the year. We were told it can easily go up to around 400 Euro per 100 grams! And the biggest truffle pieces ever found with each of them weighing around 1 kg were sold for thousands of euros (6 figures!!!) in Macau and Hong Kong.
Walking through the forest we watched the hunting dogs smell the ground and then dig out a truffle with front paws from the soil. The thing is to get the truffle from the dog asap and give him food instead after having found each truffle so he doesn’t eat it himself. The dogs have to be trained well to give the found truffles to their owners. But it is impossible to train boars living in the forest as they are one of the biggest enemies of truffles and would love to have them all to themselves.
Once we found some white and also black truffles, we were ready to go to Osteria il Castello restaurant to taste truffle dinner.
The Osteria il Castello dates back to 1906 and it’s a great place for big family dinners. Designed to fit the surrounding woods (with a sort of personal museum inside), offers tasty local meals, wine and alcohol. Vodka and liquors (6 flavours: mint, liquorice, lemon, juniper, fennel and chamomile) are made here in the Origine Laboratorio Liquori Valbormida by Alessandro Pancini since 2009 together with the Origine vodka being the first Italian vodka that has organic agricultural certification (= ”organic vodka”). And guys could taste all of them.
We also got to the kitchen to watch how to clean up the truffles from the soil and make polenta with cheese sauce and truffles on top. I could never imagine I would love such a ”rural” meal so much. The taste was incredible and the three ingredients completed each other ridiculously well!
And here I was with the first truffle meal ever! And as well the second one, as we were served a truffle dessert (goat cheese dessert with truffles on top) afterwards! Now I know why truffles are so expensive, their taste is also unbelievable!
We even got a truffle ID with the details about truffles which looks like Italian ID!
Check out the video I made from that night:
Truffle hunting in Millesimo and delicious dinner in Osteria Il Castello was part of a press trip organized by Agenzia Regionale per la promozione turistica ”in Liguria”. As usual, all the thoughts in the article are of my own. Many thanks for this unforgettable experience!