Thursday, December 22, 2011

Everyday I'm Trufflin' (Rognes Truffle Festival)

FĂȘte de la Truffe is held every year in the lovely Provence town of  Rognes on the Sunday before Christmas.


You absolutely must arrive early. We got there at 9.15am and it was already busy, by 1130am when we left it was bordering on unbearable (as far as trying to negotiate the stalls with a pram). Next year we'll get there at 8.45am.

Even though it was early and very cold, a dozen or so truffle farmers had their little stalls set up and buyers were well into the business of sniffing, squeezing and fondling the black variety of this fungus that grows in the local area (among oak tree roots).

Here's what they look like: (very hard to photograph as truffle buying is apparently a spectator sport, everyone wants to have a sticky beak)


Oh yes, that sign does say 1200 euros a kilogram (around AU$1560 a kilo, or US$700 a pound). There was one lady giving 1300 euros a kilo a try too.

And those little suckers are quite heavy - in fact that's one of the key indicators of a good truffle, that it's heavy for its size. You also want to check it has been brushed clean; dodgy vendors have been known to stuff cracks with mud to increase the truffle's weight. It should also be free of soft spots (hence all the fondling) and have a strong truffle-y odour.


How to describe the truffle's very difficult to put in words. Much like Judge Stewart's explanation of obscenity, it's hard to define the flavour of truffles, but you know it when you taste it. Rich, pungent, earthy - all words that are often used and don't really do this food justice.

This truffle is 55 euros (around $77). Eeek!

Given that truffles were not in our budget this year, we decided to try one of the truffle omelettes on offer. Omelettes are a great vehicle as they let the truffle do all the talking. Similarly other delish ways to enjoy truffles are with mashed potato or tossed through pasta with butter. Mmm.


This nice man cooked us a truffle omelette with baguette and rosé (yes, at 10am, don't judge) for 10 euro each.

It was truly delicious.

But truffles were only one of the things on offer. The market was full of amazing fresh produce and other goods. Honey, olives, oils, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, liqueurs, wine, snails, foie gras, the list goes on...

You could buy your own truffle omelette kit - 6 eggs stored overnight with a small truffle (the eggs absorb the truffle flavour) which is then grated over the omelette:


Of course there was cheese:




Sleighfulls of salami:


More cheese:

Those rounds were at least 60cms (2 ft) across

All sorts of mushrooms:


Herbs and spices:



I've yet to gather enough guts to buy one of the mouldy ones

Check out this charcuterie. Can you see the little dried piggies on the left? How chewy would those ears be?


Now get a load of this.

Still haven't been in France long enough to eat this. More time in country required.

There are a lot more festivities during the day, but we were fairly frazzled after two hours of crowds, omelettes and the flirting tapenade man.  Oh, and the petting zoo:

Did you say foie gras?

Here's a short video (less than 2 mins) of the Festival from the foodie perspective. It's in French but I think it captures the atmosphere perfectly.

Best wishes for the lead up to Christmas: may all your truffles be dense and lightly fondled!


Susan said...

Oh my! How wonderful! The truffles! The little piggies! The geese! The salami sleighs! Yum! I especially love the half dozen eggs and the truffle! Thanks for more amazing photos!

suzeblack said...

Hi Kirsty, i live in far west nsw( Australia ) and have been reading your blog for over 12 months now,this is my first comment. Just wanted to say how gorgeous your pictures are and how I love reading about your adventures in France. I also loved the yellow stitchery you showed recently, thinking of making one in green colours ( add that to the "to do" list! ) Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas, Suze.

Nicola said...

Wow! Amazing food and photos. I wasn't brave enough to post a picture of our Thanksgiving Turkey sitting on the butcher counter all plucked except for the tail feathers fanned out! French markets are truly another world. Hope you have a very happy Christmas featuring plenty of French produce!

Carolyn said...

Thank you for the amazing photos, I can almost smell the cheese. I was so overwhelmed at the market we went to in Tournon, I forgot to take any pictures!

Sarah - Red Gingham said...

I think I'm just not fancy enough to be French. Oh dear I don't think I like any of that food. No not even the cheese. I do like the livestock though, but as pets not to eat! Glad you enjoyed your breakfast.

**Anne** said...

The mind truly boggles at all the different things we humans eat. Those half pigs...well have the guts been taken out and then something else stuffed in or is it the whole pig, intestines and all just cooked and then hacked in half?
Some of those cheeses look like they've been around a century or two and no doubt taste amazing. The bread looks magnificant. Beats my my order of two French style continental loaves for Christmas from Bakers Delight any day.
I wouldn't mind trying truffles to see what it's all about but I'm not interested in foie gras. I'm just a bit fragile when it comes to force feeding geese. Each to his own!! :)
Thanks for sharing your photos and insights into this festival. I enjoyed the video too although I might need my French speaking daughter and husband to translate for me.
Anne xx

my cup of tea said...

That is just amazing! That would be a dream day for me. I love all the photos of the delicious food (-the piggies)what a wonderful morning the two of you had!

verobirdie said...

Beautiful post. I never we t there, thinkng there were only truffes to buy, which is out of my budget. Now, It is on my list for next year...

Sara Louise said...

Everyday I'm Trufflin'.... sheer genius! That's what I'm going to be singing all day!
I swear one day I'm going to teach Fifty how to truffle hunt. He's a sniffer, so maybe it's his calling.
Merry Christmas to you and yours Kirsty! x

Veronica said...

Dang, that's a lot of cheese. My mouth is watering just looking at them. I've never had truffles in my life before. Definitely have to try it someday...

Merry Christmas, Kirsty!


Betty said...

It looks great, inviting even. Pity I hardly speak French.
I relish all of these/your pictures.

Eva said...

Beautiful pictures! The market looks really beautiful and exotic! I can understand that you were overwhelmed after two hours, there seems to have been a lot to take in! Those kind of places, I guess, do only exist in France. One day I'd like to visit a similar market, too. Those pigs ... They wouldn't be my first choice, either ... :-/ (on the other hand, if we think about what's inside sausage ... why not ...)

Aidan said...

Man, I wish I'd known about this before. Paul wanted to buy truffles for our Christmas dinner and we wanted a more authentic experience than the specialty shops.He would have been all over that. Next year. And we'll meet you there.
lots of love,
aidan xo

Rachel at Stitched in Color said...

Gosh, they are SO SERIOUS about food, aren't they? Loved the pictures!

Poppyprint said...

My mouth is watering for truffles, cheese and bread. I was almost set to cast aside my non merci je ne mange pas du viande, but then that abomination of stuffed oink appeared and I'm back on the program. We are now aiming for the first 3 weeks of March. Crossing fingers for new boss' permission. Joyeux Noel!!!

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